Demolished buildings in BMC's heritage list

Being tagged as a heritage building would normally be a matter of pride. But, for some people in the city, the tag has turned into a living nightmare because the civic body has gone ahead and conferred the honour upon certain buildings that are standing no more. In a case that can only be put down as a lack of awareness and development, several buildings on the BMC’s Heritage list are now basically a pile of rubble. When the list started being collated about five years ago, the buildings were standing. But in a couple of years, since they were old, they went into redevelopment and were demolished.

But, the BMC simply forgot about them and included them in the list of heritage structures, which was released in 2012. The buildings at Dadar, Matunga, King’s Circle, under the Five Gardens precinct, were declared as Grade IIA heritage structures. This means the residents are now in a strange situation – their homes cannot be reconstructed because the Heritage committee doesn’t permit them any modification. And in the buildings that are standing, no repair work can be done. MiD DAY brings you some cases.

Work on Subhash Sadan has been stopped and residents are forced to stay on rent

Building: Subhash Sadan
Location: Dr Ambedkar Road, Matunga
Status: Demolished in 2010

This building is located on Dr Ambedkar Road. The structure was razed for redevelopment over three years ago. Meanwhile, BMC, in 2012 decided to call it a ‘heritage building’, even though all that was left of the building was a pile of dust. This building too received its IOD certificate and work on it began. The building had only come up to the first floor when the construction was stopped due to lack of CC. The result? Residents are without a home, and have to stay on rent somewhere else in the city. Currently, at the site, one can see the quintessential blue metal sheet that encloses every under-construction site.

Building: Meenakshi, Mohan Manohar, Punit Smriti
Location: Dr Ambedkar Road, Dadar (East)
Status: Demolished in 2010

Jiten Chheda shows the land where the three buildings stood

These three buildings in Dadar no longer exist, but still find their name in the heritage list declared by the civic body last year. The land is currently vacant and is occupied by homeless people. The three buildings, because they were in a derelict condition, had been put into redevelopment. After getting an Intimation of Disapproval (IOD) certificate, the BMC demolished the structures. But, due to the lack of a commencement certificate (CC), further work was stalled. Residents have shifted to their relatives’ homes or have rented flats somewhere else in the city, despite having owned a home in a prime location.

Arvind Mota, a resident of Punit Smriti, told this reporter, “Our building had got the IOD certificate and it went into redevelopment. It got demolished. There are problems in getting the CC for further work because of the heritage tag. We have been homeless for the past three years.” Jiten Chheda, a resident of Meenakshi building, said, “This is completely unfair on the part of the BMC and the Heritage committee. If the BMC had surveyed the buildings and coordinated properly, our society wouldn’t have been part of this list. They should’ve checked properly before releasing the list, or at least the Heritage committee should’ve intimated the BMC. We wouldn’t have been without a home.”

Building: Naval House
Location: Near Khodadad Circle, Dadar
Status: Under construction in 2007 when list was being made, redeveloped in 2009

Naval House, which was recently reconstructed. Pics/Sameer Markande

Naval House has a unique distinction of being a brand-new building with a heritage tag (Serial no 31-O on the list). When work on preparing the list of heritage structures began, this building was already under construction. The building received an occupation certificate in 2009. Now, because of this distinction, residents can’t make any changes in their own homes. Raxit Pasad, secretary of Dadar Matunga Residents Association, added, “These are just few examples that we have shown. There are many other such cases of people, who are suffering due to the civic body’s oversight. How can BMC include a building, which was under construction when they made the list? On top of that, how can they publish such a list after five years, wherein so many things have changed?”

Building: Homi Villa
Location: Near Khodadad Circle, Dadar
Age: About 76 years old

Priya Samant (64) spends her entire day trying to conceal the cracks on the columns and beams of her house. Pics/Sameer Markande

Homi Villa is a three-storey building with 11 flats, eight of which are occupied by the elderly. Walls have developed cracks and residents try to hide these gashes with gift-wrapping sheets and colourful paper. 64-year-old Priya Samant, who stays on the third floor, is usually alone all day, and spends it doing up her house, trying to conceal the cracks on the columns and beams of her beloved house. Says Samant, “I am tired of this problem, which has been going on for many years now. Earlier, we would get internal repairs done at least twice a year. Now with this ‘heritage’ tag, we don’t get permission to work on our own house. Is this committee going to make things easy for me, and guarantee that I will be safe in my house? Why should we suffer for their wrong listing?”

Building: Lila Niwas
Location: Dr Ambedkar Road, Matunga
Age: About 68 years old

A resident points to the damage caused to his house by termites

Lila Niwas, a five storey building, has 14 flats inhabited by about 12 senior citizens. One can see the wooden staircases, which termites have eaten away at from the inside. The staircase groans when one walks over it. Kaushik Majumdar (82), a resident of the third floor of this building, said, “I have a knee problem and it becomes very difficult to even walk here. Termites have eaten away at our house and the balconies are dangerous. With no redevelopment, the building can collapse any time. I’m afraid that day will come soon.”¬†

The other side
The civic body, on its part, had initiated a four-member review committee to hear grievances and suggestions from citizens. Dinesh Afzalpurkar, chairman of the review committee, said, “I have been hearing all residents and these objections also will be inspected by me and my team. I am not aware of the proposed heritage list, as it was made in 2007 and I was not the chairman of the Heritage committee then. I will review the objections now and take decisions accordingly.” Rajeev Kukunoor, chief engineer in charge of Development Plan and Building Proposal departments of BMC, the department that has stalled permission for redevelopment of the above buildings, was unavailable for comment.

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