Esplanade mansion: HC orders to remove banner which eatery claims to have permission for

Updated: Feb 21, 2020, 07:48 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

Also, in order to ensure that the restoration work does not get interrupted due to litigations that illegal occupants of the building might file, the division bench of justices ordered that prior notice should be given to the landlord

By the time mid-day reached the spot, the banner was being removed by a couple of workers from Sabalan restaurant
By the time mid-day reached the spot, the banner was being removed by a couple of workers from Sabalan restaurant

A banner put up on the scaffolding around Esplanade Mansion, despite an HC order to protect the heritage structure, prompted INTACH's advocate Janak Dwarkadas to allege that landlord Sadiq Ali 'was trying to make money out of an adversity'. Though Ali's advocate refuted the allegation, Justice S J Kathawalla took a quick look at the pictures of the banner and directed MHADA to remove it.

Also, in order to ensure that the restoration work does not get interrupted due to litigations that illegal occupants of the building might file, the division bench of justices ordered that prior notice should be given to the landlord.

During the hearing, Dwarkadas said that even though the Esplanade Mansion has been scaffolded due to its dilapidated condition, a banner, advertising Sabalan Restaurant has been put up on the netting around the building. "A huge hoarding has been put up on the scaffolding. I thought the court had passed an order to protect the structure," he added.

However, refuting Dwarkadas's allegation that the landlord was trying to make money, Ali's advocate Cherag Balsara said that a written complaint should be filed instead of making verbal accusations.

When mid-day reached the spot, a couple of workers from the restaurant were removing the banner. The guard there said, "They put it up from outside about four-five days back. They said that they had taken permission from the BMC."

Sabalan restaurant had been opened in the place of Army Restaurant. After the building was shut down, the restaurant moved to another place in Fort. A staff member said, "We put up the banner only to let people know that the restaurant has moved to another place. We have permission to put it up."

While MHADA officials clearly stated that they had not given any permission, assistant municipal commissioner, A ward, Chanda Jadhav said, "We have not given the restaurant permission to put up hoardings on Esplanade Mansion."

Meanwhile, taking note of the fact that illegal tenants might try to stake claim on the property and delay restoration work, Justice Kathawalla said that any occupant who wants to approach any court in the state to seek relief would have to give a notice to the landlord 15 days prior to that.

'Acquisition not possible'

Landlord Ali's advocate Cherag Balsara mentioned in court that his client and couple of other tenants were ready to pay R50 crore towards restoration of the structure. Balsara added that he would submit a detailed affidavit of the landlord's financial contribution before the next hearing. "This amount will have to be expended for the purpose of the project. The entire amount is not needed right now. We will come up with a scheme and will prepare a fund flow," he added. He further said that it was "totally impossible" to acquire the structure as the acquisition cost is too high. "Based on the ready reckoner rates, the acquisition cost is over R3,200 crore and no parliament or legislature will give approval for it. We will cooperate and carry out this restoration," he said.

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