BMC flouts HC rule, allows ads on public toilet at CST

Jan 19, 2014, 04:06 IST | Sujit Mahamulkar

Despite the Bombay High Court's 2012 order that no hoardings should adorn city's heritage structures, the civic body has gone ahead and done the exact opposite

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) seems to be in no mood to learn from its past mistakes. In fact, it has gone ahead and flouted the Bombay High Court's 2012 ruling by allowing advertisements to be put up on the public toilet connected to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station, which is a World Heritage Structure. It might be recalled that in 2012, the Bombay HC had ordered the civic body that it should strictly follow the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee's (MHCC) guidelines and pull down hoardings and neon signs from the city's heritage structures.

An advertisement on a public toilet near Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Pic/Shadab Khan
An advertisement on a public toilet near Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Pic/Shadab Khan

The same public toilet was a talking point a couple of years ago when the BMC had plans to redevelop it. The then municipal commissioner Jairaj Phatak had overruled the Heritage Committee's suggestion and went ahead with the redevelopment plan. Sanjay Gurav, a Right To Information (RTI) activist from South Mumbai, has filed a complaint at the A-ward about advertisements being put up on the heritage structure. Gurav asked, "On what basis has the BMC given permission to put up advertisements on the structure?"

When contacted, Deputy Municipal Commissioner Vasant Prabhu tried to change the topic. "The permission must have been given against the redevelopment of the structure of toilet. But I will check again," he said. Based on Prabhu's statement, when SUNDAY MiD DAY contacted V Ranganathan, chairman of the MHCC, the latter said, "There is no such proposal before the Heritage committee." Dr Anahita Pundole, who had filed a public interest litigation in the Bombay High Court against illegal hoardings in the city, said, "There is a clear order from the HC that BMC should not allow any advertisement on a structure which falls under heritage precinct and the CST has World Heritage status. So this is totally illegal."

Why CST is a World Heritage Structure

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), formerly known as Victoria Terminus Station, is an outstanding example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India. The building, designed by British architect FW Stevens, became the symbol of Bombay as the ‘Gothic City’, which was a major international mercantile port in India. The terminal was built over a span of 10 years, starting in 1878, according to a High Victorian Gothic design based on late medieval Italian models. It is an outstanding example of the meeting of two cultures, as British architects worked with Indian craftsmen to include Indian architectural tradition and idioms thus forging a new style unique to the city.

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