Rayani, who is on a mission to protect the abandoned and ignored legacy
of these ancient structures, says, “We have our history embedded in
those caves. It is the duty and obligation of the state and citizens to
protect the caves.”

Rayani bases his argument on Article 51(A) of the Constitution, which
deal with the Fundamental Duties of the citizen and enjoin upon her to,
among other things, value and preserve the country’s heritage.

“The encroachments atop the caves have led to sewage and waste entering
the caves,” says a worried Rayani. “The caves are also infested with
bats. Children play cricket in the cave complex and there are taxis
parked inside the compound.”

Ghanti Narasimhan, superintendent of archaeology, Mumbai circle, says
the caves are currently in a pathetic condition, but he promises to
bring about a change. “The quality of rocks in the caves is inferior and
the deterioration has taken place over the years,” he says. “There is
seepage of rainwater and sewage from the encroachers’ houses passes
through the caves.”

Narasimhan says ASI experts will mend the cracks in the rock surface of
the caves, though it might not happen immediately.