The Wasting of 6,50,00,000-year-old Gilbert Hill Geological Monument must be prevented. Plea urges PM to get World Heritage Status to 65 million-year-old Gilbert Hill,

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Mr. Narendra Modi
Hon. Prime Minister of India
New Delhi, India,

31st October 2014

Respected sir,

India’s 6,50,00,000-year-old Gilbert Hill is a 200 ft (61 m) monolith column of black basalt rock certainly the best place, at Andheri, in suburban Mumbai ,India. The 200-foot-high vertical columns of the Gilbert hill are similar to the Devils Tower National Monument in Crook County,north-eastern Wyoming, USA. The Gilbert Hill, Mumbai, India - One of only two Hills in the world of the same type. The other one is Devil's Tower is in USA. They are made of Basalt hexagons protruding from the Earth. It is the only hill of its kind in India and had been reportedly declared a National Park by the Central Government in 1952. The hill offers a panoramic view of the city of Mumbai. After years of lobbying and public interest litigation by Locals for the protection of the Hill, the pre-historic Gilbert Hill has finally been notified of its status as a heritage structure. It was notified as a heritage Grade II structure in September 2007. We are seeking its protection from the developments happening around it that is threatening the very existence of the 65 million-year-old hill. But none have taken note of their appeal and residents even fear the hill being delisted from the local heritage list.

Gilbert hill is a rare and unique geological feature in the geological history of the Deccan trap area in the world. The Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, Volume 51, N0.1 Published in December 1952,the environment and geological significance had been recognized in the authoritative journal of the Bombay Natural History society. The two spots in the Bombay-Salsette islands -- Worli hill and The Gilbert Hill-stand out , therefore, as prominent land-marks in the geological history of these islands; the former as a hunting ground for fossil collectors. These beds have been known for the preservation of frog, tortoise and other animals and plant fossils. It has described about the Gilbert Hill is a very unique feature of the geological history of the “Deccan Trap” area. In Western countries many such localities have been preserved as National parks. Gilbert Hill has been a habitat of Black Kites and the Indian Ring-necked Parakeets. Numerous birds were spotted in large numbers on the Gilbert hill. However, environmentalists’ fear that the numbers may dwindle over the years as their habitat may be destroyed by the “concrete jungle” around the monolith. Therefore it is strongly recommended that now, at least the relict portion of the hill, should be preserved as a “National Natural Monument”. This has already been recommended by a competent authority like Geological Survey of India and Bombay Natural History Society.

In 2010, we had approached to UNESCO head office Paris in order to get world heritage status. In reply, the UNESCO's head office in Paris had said that UNESCO cannot intervene in the case as the Government of India has not even proposed or and nominated that Gilbert Hill be listed as a World Heritage site. In 2012, we had sought Bombay High Court's direction to the Centre and the state to recommend the monolith to the UNESCO to be declared a World Heritage site. In 9th February 2012, the Bombay high court had disposed off Public Interest Litigation accordingly, As regards the authorities the authorities should employ Net Boosting and other methods for ensuring that there are no landslides in future at a distance of 5 meters from the Gilbert hill, the Municipal Corporation shall consider the said submission and take a decision thereon within three months from today. Unfortunately there has been no effort from the revenue department to stop constructions activities around the monolith although the high court has passed an order. In 2011 & 2013, We had approached to World Monument Fund Office, New York in order to include it in World explore and protection Fund. We had submitted a Nomination form for world monument watch list 2012& 2014. In reply, World Monument Fund regrets to inform that Gilbert Hill, Mumbai was not selected for inclusion in the 2012 Watch .WMF has sent us again a Nomination form for world monument watch list 2016.We hope that Gilbert Hill site will be inscribed on the list of world heritage in danger.

Mumbai’s 65-million-year-old Gilbert Hill is threatened by a rash of urban constructions around the pre historical monolith. Government and the authorities had totally neglected to protect and preserve this site in the face of unbridled and illegal activities. Revenue department has given permission to builders to erect 16 stories skyscrapers in front of Monolith. The excavation work of the hill is going on. Slowly but steadily the hill is being trimmed. Today as stated above, the plateau top survived is very small. If further disturbance to the hill is not prevented, there is fear of creating more danger to residents around the monolith,

It is a pity that either through ignorance, we have failed to realize the value of our natural heritage, and have largely neglected it. It is our passion for its preservation and our sense of pride for our National Monument that drives us to stand in defence of Gilbert Hill. This natural wonder featured a few scenes in the many Bollywood blockbusters; Gilbert Hill received its few minutes of fame in the Bollywood films Sholay (1975) and Waqt (1965), and Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire” includes some scenes which were shot from atop Gilbert Hill, featuring the slums of the surrounding area. Gilbert Hill’s beauty was recognized by Bollywood and Hollywood producers, how can the government not recognize the same and allow construction around such a wonderful geologic anomaly? The wasting of Gilbert Hill must be prevented; it should be preserved for future generations to enjoy, and to appreciate. To be thrown away into the hands of builders lobby, would be a shame. It is heartbreaking to see that our Govt. officials treat our National Monuments so recklessly. This amazing monument should be considered an important part of our "Incredible India" heritage!!!   By allowing the destruction and ruin of our National Monuments all that will be left for tourist attractions are SLUMS - DOGS & a few MILLIONAIRES!!!!!

Yours most sincerely,

Shail Rao-Rane  

Note:  In view of above, I humbly request you that please find attached web links/ files with this letter for your reference

World Monument find, New York  ( 2012 and  2014 World Monuments Watch)

UNESCO World heritage center, Head office, Paris  ( 2011)

Bombay High court Judgement copy , PIL 57 / 9-02- 2012

Bombay Natural History Society, 1952 / Vol. No. 52

In view of above, I humbly request Your Excellency to direct the concerned to take following action.

1-      Enactment of a uniform and effective law in all states of India for protection of Monuments and Heritage site.

2-      Seeking a direction to the Center and state governments to recommend the monolith to UNESCO and secure a world heritage status for it.

3-      Government department should mark out the area and rigidly enforce orders on private companies to keep away from the area so marked.

4-      A sitting judge to enquire into the circumstances and an immediately action has been taken to stop construction around the hill

5-      Immediately suspend the Revenue department officers for given permission to builders to erect 16 stories skyscrapers in front of Monolith.