Preserve existing heritage sites first
After the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee’s proposal, the BMC had suggested several additions of buildings and sites in the city to its heritage list. This has sparked a huge controversy, with several residents opposing the heritage move, citing that it would become very difficult for them to do any kind of modifications to old, dilapidated buildings. Obviously, the inability to go in for ‘redevelopment’ may also be a concern, as there are big bucks given the current trend.
Politicians too have jumped into the fray, many siding with the irked parties and expressing supposed concern about the difficulties this would cause owners. There has also been an effort to communalise this issue.
Then, there are activists and some supporters who say that they welcome the additions because it is one way in which one could ensure retaining the character of certain places in the city. While one is all for charm and character, which only old buildings give Mumbai, it is still important that the heritage committee along with civic authorities first looks to preserve and dedicate itself to the upkeep of already existing heritage structures in the city, before adding new areas or structures to the list. Many of Mumbai’s heritage structures are in a state of disrepair and neglect. Needing urgent attention and repairs to cleaning and basic maintenance, these too seem to be mired in red tape and an endless battle with other factions and opposition.
Even people need to have a basic civic sense and a respect of heritage structures, which has to come from within and a basic sense of responsibility. Activists have often spoken about numerous hurdles facing them when they try to preserve a certain character or flavour of existing heritage buildings. It is problems like these that first need to be addressed, rather than bring additional buildings and sites under the heritage umbrella.
The base and functioning needs to be stronger and have greater efficacy, then, one can debate and move upon the possibility of bringing more precincts into the heritage fold.