High Court directs all three panel members to visit Esplanade together

Published: 19 December, 2019 14:56 IST | Arita Sarkar |

The High Court directed all the parties involved to fix a date and time when all three-member can jointly visit the heritage structure.

File pic
File pic

An argument broke out during the hearing involving the fate of Esplanade Mansion at the Bombay High Court on Wednesday over the lack of coordination between the three members of the court-appointed committee. The High Court directed all the parties involved to fix a date and time when all three-member can jointly visit the heritage structure.

During the hearing, Janak Dwarkadas, the advocate representing INTACH, the petitioner in the public interest litigation said that while Chetan Raikar, one of the committee members, had already visited the Esplanade Mansion several times, MHADA has not given permission to the other members. He pointed out that two attempts which were made by Abha Lambah to visit the heritage structure were completely deterred by MHADA. The panel includes structural architect Chetan Raikar and conservation architects Abha Narain Lambah and Pankaj Joshi.

Dwarkadas submitted transcripts of messages exchanged between the members and said that Raikar has 'taken over the running of the committee'. "The previous order says that the structural engineer may be required to go more often than the others. But why should it be restricted to one member? We may also want to go more than once. We are not even allowed to go even once." he said.

Prakash Lad, the advocate representing MHADA said that they want to cooperate with the members and officials have been asked to allow the members whenever they come to visit. The matter was heard by division bench of justices S.J Kathawalla and B.P Colabawalla. Kathawalla referred to the lack of coordination as 'teething troubles'. "Figure out when all three can go together (for an inspection). We'll fix the time and date so that no notice has to be given to MHADA," said Kathawalla. He added that the inspection will be carried out this month itself.

Raikar told Mid-day that as per the court's directions, he has visited Esplanade Mansion several times and his team has been working on carrying out the various tests to ascertain the structural strength of the Grade II A heritage structure. "We will carry out the non-destructive tests next week. The building is mainly made out of cast iron, mild steel, wood, concrete and bricks. We will inspect the materials at the site to figure out the strength of each material. We will also take samples to the lab for further testing," said Raikar.

Raikar added that the test results will determine whether the structure can be salvaged and the costs involved for the restoration. The date and time of the joint visit will be finalised in court on Thursday.

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