Little merit in Shiv Sena's 'heritage conspiracy' charge

For the last few days Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray has been crying foul over Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) deciding to expand the list of heritage structures in the city. Uddhav has disputed the move to register 800 more structures as a conspiracy against Marathi community as this would make redevelopment of enlisted buildings difficult.

A hoarding near Sena Bhavan
Wide of the mark: A hoarding near Sena Bhavan, Shivaji Park criticises the government for not including Bhendi Bazaar on the heritage list. 

“We will oppose if anybody makes trouble for development of areas like Dadar, Prabhadevi and Mahim by putting buildings in heritage list,” Uddhav Thackeray had said on Saturday while meeting Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan with a delegation. Thackeray demanded Marathi-dominated localities be kept out of the proposed heritage list. He maintained that since people from these areas follow rules, the government was trying to bully them. “If the government wants to put a ‘heritage’ tag on a Marathi area, why isn’t the same label put on Bhendi Bazaar,” he had said.

The party also put up a huge hoarding near the Shiv Sena Bhavan traffic signal pertaining to the Bhendi Bazaar statement. Posters and banners were also raised at various chowks all over the city.

Busting a myth
However, MiD DAY has discovered that Uddhav has not done his homework. Bhendi Bazaar is, in fact, part of the proposed heritage list. This punctures Shiv Sena’s argument that this was a conspiracy against the Marathi community.

Also on the list are several cinema halls, statues, schools, colleges, police stations, government staff quarters, churches, temples, masjids, private bungalows, BDD chawls, lodges, playgrounds, gardens, cemeteries, gaothans, dispensaries, hospitals, banks, markets, bridges and post offices.

Shiv Sena spokesperson Subhash Desai effectively accepted that his leader was not aware of the facts. “We will inform our leader that Bhendi Bazaar is in the list. But even the chief minister didn’t clarify the matter.”

Surprisingly, V Ranganathan, chairman of MHCC too appeared incognisant of the proposed list. “I have to see the list as it has not come to me,” he told MiD DAY. “The list was made five years ago and submitted to the state government. The state government, however, sent it to BMC for inviting suggestions and objections. A decision will be taken after all arguments have been considered,” he added.

Have your say
The list, uploaded on the civic body’s website, will be reviewed based on the suggestions of the public. The finalised list will then be sent to the state government for approval. Citizens can submit their suggestions and objections till September end with office of the deputy municipal architect, 6th floor, extension building, BMC head office.  

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