New heritage rules set to redefine Mumbai skyline
State eases development curbs around heritage structures
MUMBAI: 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,whohaveforlong stronglyopposedattemptstodilute heritage rules. In Mumbai, especially in the island city, where real estate prices are sky-high, there has been tremendous pressure fromdevelopersforredevelopment 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.