That redevelopment and repairs are needed for buildings in Mumbai is a regular feature. But some residents are not able to carry out the required work, because the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has declared their building as a ‘heritage structure’. In 2012, the BMC had declared a list of heritage structures in the city, in which many residential buildings from Shivaji Park, Hindu Colony, Dadar Parsi Colony, Matunga, Five Gardens had also been included.
According to the BMC’s notice (CHE/ 15115/ DP/ Gen of 14-08-2013), repairs or redevelopment of these structures had to have the permission of the Heritage Committee. Departments like development plan and building proposal, assistant commissioners of all wards, superintendent of licence department were directed to refer all proposals of redevelopment to the Heritage Committee. This had posed a strange quandary for residents. There buildings were old and needed repairs, but the Heritage Committee was preventing it from doing so. Even to hammer a small nail in the wall, permission had to be sought.
Anil Sarda, a resident of Hindu Colony, Dadar, said, “We fail to understand why this is being done as our buildings are not even in a liveable condition and need repairs. The RCC structure’s life is stipulated. How can our buildings be heritage if they are made of RCC? They don’t fit the definition of a heritage building. There is no architectural work done on them.” Nilesh Kanakia, a resident of Matunga, complained, “It’s wrong of the BMC to not give us permission to redevelop our own homes. We are clueless of the criteria and workings of the system. Buildings around ours are being reconstructed, while we are denied permission.”
In order to hear the grievances and suggestions over the issue, the Afzalpurkar Committee was set up in November. The four-member committee has received inputs from 750 people in just 20 days. Dinesh Afzalpurkar, former chairman of the Heritage committee, and the head of the review panel, said, “We started hearing suggestions and objections at the end of November.
We have heard 750 people till now, and more will be heard over the course of time. On January 2, we will meet with the elected representatives (corporators) who have written to us.” Afzalpurkar also added that four members would be visiting the sites under consideration and that the report would be ready by the second week of January. “We will submit it to the state government by that time,” he told this correspondent.
The heritage list
The list comprises over 800 structures and includes over 14 temples, 8 mosques, 20 churches, a Buddhist temple, Mariamman temple and other properties like cinema halls, statues, schools, colleges, police stations, government staff quarters, private bungalows, BDD chawls, lodges, playgrounds, gardens, cemeteries, gaothans, dispensaries, hospitals, banks, markets, bridges and post offices.