NAGPUR: The demand to keep Sitabuldi fort open for public and tourists throughout the year is being raised for at least 15 years now. According to former minister of state of new and renewable energy Vilas Muttemwar, he had first taken up the demand in Lok Sabha in 2002. In 2007, he also met minister of state for defence MM Pallam Raju in this regard and also followed it up for several years. 

"I met three defence ministers — George FernandesPranab Mukherjee and AK Anthony. In principle, all three of them agreed that the fort needs to be kept open. However, the Army doesn't want to understand the feeling of people," he says, adding that the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) too did not heed the proposal but agreed that the fort should be kept open for two days. 

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"About 10 years ago, the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA) too had taken up the issue and also organized a competition for architects on interesting ideas that can be implemented for development of the fort," said the then secretary of IIA Pradyumn Sahasrabhojanee. 

Sahasrabhojanee said that the fort is at an high elevation and town planning theory states such spots should be used as a vantage point for understanding the city and its development. "Some part of the fort should be opened for public. When people understand their city's history, they will take care of it. Otherwise the monument will continue to be neglected." 

"Nowadays, no defence unit needs a fort to secure itself. It is a medieval concept. The Army can be given any other space. All restrictions imposed on the fort are stupid," said Sahasrabhojanee. 

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