Meanwhile, Mehta says she is tired of the villagers’ allegations, and
has threatened to sue Padte for libel and slander. “They are
personalising the issue,” she says. “This seems to be their last resort.
INTACH has made no monetary gain out of this. Our efforts are part of
our social commitment to the site.”

Shops hinder work at Elephanta caves

The MTDC still faces roadblock of rows of shops in its development drive
at the world heritage site

Suhit Kelkar

Mumbai, February 24: The two-day Elephanta festival which ended on
Saturday may have brought more public attention to the spectacular
caves, but there has not been much to cheer for the state tourism
department as it has not been able to remove the unauthorised shops run
by people from the three villages in the island.

Although the tourism department is trying to develop Elephanta island in
a way appropriate for a world heritage site, rehabilitation of the
shopkeepers is proving to be a major roadblock. Conservationists and
tourism officials agree that Elephanta will not regain its historical
pristine look without the removal of these shops. There are about 25
shops, all unauthorised, along the stairway leading from the jetty to
the caves.


“This idea, moreover, is inhumane and would be intolerable to UNESCO,
which gave the world heritage site status to Elephanta,” said Tasneem
Mehta of INTACH, a conservationist who drew up the area development plan
for Elephanta in 2002.