New her­itage rules set to re­de­fine Mum­bai sky­line

State eases de­vel­op­ment curbs around her­itage struc­tures

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Live - - FRONT PAGE - Manasi Phadke

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.

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