Mumbai: Esplanade landlord pledges to bear renovation cost

Updated: Dec 03, 2019, 07:20 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

Bombay High Court also appoints a committee of independent architects to study the feasibility

Esplanade Mansion
Esplanade Mansion

Esplanade Mansion, which MHADA seemed hell bent on demolishing, may get a reprieve. Taking into consideration INTACH's recommendation, the HC, on Monday, appointed a committee of three independent architects — Chetan Raikar, Abha Narain Lambah and Vikas Dilawari — to figure out whether it is viable to restore the structure.

What's more, the owner of the building, Sadiq Ali, has said he is ready to pay for all costs involved in restoring the structure.

As part of its recommendation, INTACH had suggested a list of names for the panel. The division bench of justice S J Kathawalla and justice B P Colabawalla picked structural architect Raikar and conservation architects Lambah and Dilawari as members of the committee.

For MHADA, funding the structure's restoration has been a major point of contention, and time and again they have asked for permission to demolish it citing the report filed by IIT-Bombay, which stated that restoration was not financially viable.

During the hearing on Monday, however, the advocate representing the landlord, Sadiq Ali, stated that he was ready to pay for all the costs involved in restoring the structure. According to MHADA, the mansion's restoration would cost around Rs 32.03 crore.  

Time and again MHADA has asked for permission to demolish the structure. FILE PICTime and again MHADA has asked for permission to demolish the structure. FILE PICTime and again MHADA has asked for permission to demolish the structure. File pic

Expressing his happiness regarding the developments, Rajan Jayakar, convenor of INTACH and petitioner in the case, said, "This is a positive development. The objective of INTACH's petition was to ensure that the building is restored and not demolished, which has been accepted by all parties, including the landlord and the tenants, except MHADA." 

He added that the committee would also be given a copy of the IIT-Bombay's structural audit report as reference. 

The MHADA has been pushing for demolition of the Grade II heritage structure and they stuck to their stand during the hearing on Monday as well.

Advocate representing MHADA, Prakash Lad opposed the appointment of the committee and said, "We have already given an application for the building's demolition. In light of IIT-Bombay's report, which we have accepted, the building can't be repaired. Even if repairs are carried out, how long will they stay?"

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