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

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Manasi Phadke manasi.phadke@hin­dus­tan­ Faisal Ma­lik­lik@hin­dus­tan­

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.

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