New heritage rules set to redefine Mumbai skyline 5 more girls at state tribal school may have been sexually assaulted GUV HAD RAISED PLIGHT OF TRIBAL SCHOOLGIRLS
VERTICAL LIMIT State eases development curbs around heritage structures
Your city’s skyline is likely to get a new look with the state government removing or downgrading several proposed precincts and structures from the list of protected heritage sites.
The move can also pave the way for vertical development around some of the city’s most celebrated heritage sites such as Banganga Tank, Mani Bhavan and Raj Griha among others.
The decision, however, has raised the hackles of activists and conservationists, who have for long strongly opposed attempts to dilute heritage rules. In Mumbai, especially in the island city, where real estate prices are sky-high, there has been tremendous pressure from developers for redevelopment of structures that have been built up to a century ago.
In its final heritage list for five of Mumbai’s richest administrative wards — in terms of architecture and heritage — the state government has dropped the proposed ‘heritage precinct’ tag for areas such as Dadar’s Shivaji Park and Hindu Colony.
It has also decided to let the BMC commissioner take the final decision on demarcation of the buffer zones around Grade-I heritage structures — sites considered to be of national or historical importance. This effectively means that different Grade-I heritage structures are likely to have different boundaries as buffer zones, as decided by the municipal commissioner, to maintain the prominence of the site.
Until now, as per Section 67 of the city’s Development Control Regulations (DCR), there has been a mandatory buffer zone of 100 metres around Grade-I heritage structures, where the ‘view to’ and ‘view from’ the heritage structure needs to be maintained. Any development activity in this zone falls under the purview of the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC).
Abha Narain Lambah, a conservation architect, said she is “extremely disappointed at the government’s decision. “My biggest concern is that the moment you remove the 100-metre mandatory buffer zone, you will have all sorts of development around important heritage sites. You might have a high-rise towering over Mani Bhavan, for example,” she said.
A day after the government formed a special investigation team (SIT) to probe how a 10-year-old from a tribal boarding school in Buldhana district got pregnant, the parents of five more girls have stepped forward to say they suspect their daughters were sexually exploited.
Tribal development minister Vishnu Savara said they suspect all six girls were sexually harassed and medical tests will be conducted to ascertain this. He also declared the boarding school run by a private trust will be derecognised and 10 of the arrested staff members have been suspended. The police have arrested 11 people in the case so far. The main accused is a sweeper at the school. Two suspects are still on run. Sanjay Baviskar, superintendent of police (SP) Buldhana confirmed the five girls are being questioned by policewomen. “Senior IPS officer Aarti Singh and additional SP Shweta Khedkar, who is heading the SIT, are questioning the girls. We have not received any formal complaint from their families,” Baviskar told HT.
The issue of tribal boarding school students being sexually harassed across the state had previously been brought to governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao’s notice. The governor had last week requested CM Devendra Fadnavis to take cognisance of the matter, but the state took action only after the 10-year old’s case surfaced, sources said.