Mumbai: Esplanade Mansion's electricity meters removed ahead of its demolition
Electricity meters at the heritage structure were removed on Thursday following Bombay High Court orders ahead of its demolition
Days after the deadline to vacate the 150-year-old Esplanade Mansion, BEST officials removed all electricity meters from the building on Thursday. Following the directions issued by the Bombay High Court earlier this week, MHADA officials will also disconnect the water connections and begin breaking open the locks that 64 tenants have left behind on the doors of their shops/offices.
On June 4, Justices S C Dharmadhikari and G S Patel had directed MHADA officials to remove the belongings in these 64 shops, prepare an inventory and issue notices to the tenants as well as circulate them in newspapers along with notices on the building. "We will start breaking open the locks from tomorrow and will complete the process in a few days. We, however, don't have any other addresses of the tenants and cannot send them a notice. We can only put the notice on the building to inform them once we remove their belongings," said a MHADA official.
The locks to shops at Esplanade Mansion will soon be broken. File pic
After ensuring that no one was living in the building, the power supply to the building was disconnected on Tuesday and the meters were removed on Thursday. MHADA officials said that they are planning to close the gates and may even post a guard to ensure that no one enters the building once all the remaining belongings have been removed. Even as MHADA is seeking the permission of the Bombay High Court to demolish the dilapidated structure, many heritage conservationists and concerned citizens are trying to save it. Members of the Federation Of Residents Trusts which includes representatives from groups like the OVAL trust, NAGAR, Art Deco Mumbai Trust, Urban Design Research Institute, Kala Ghoda Association and heritage conservationist Abha Lambah among others have written to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on June 3.
Referring to the inscription of the 'Victorian Gothic & Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai' in the letter, the resident groups stated that the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) evaluation had mentioned urgent conservation of the Esplanade Mansion. The letter read, "This is the oldest surviving cast iron building of not just Mumbai but of India, and an architectural and engineering marvel of its time."
It further questioned the recommendation made by IIT Bombay of demolishing the building and said that IIT Bombay reports "are prepared by a single individual and undergo no formal peer review." Hence, "the report submitted is not the view of the institution but of a single employee. While we respect the outcomes of the report from the institution, surely a more realistic and practical approach is possible," the letter stated. The members of FORT further pointed out that the Esplanade Mansion is a well-engineered structure and can be fully repaired at a reasonable cost "well short of new construction."
The letter also mentioned similar suggestions for the Eros building. The members have also said it is the responsibility of the state government to ensure that the UNESCO inscription and ICOMOS report is implemented. "The city stands to compromise this World Heritage inscription, which will jeopardise the reputation of Maharashtra and the state of India on an international platform," the letter read. A copy of the letter has also been sent to the Principal Secretary of Urban Development Department Nitin Kareer, CEO of MHADA Milind Mhaiskar, civic chief Praveen Pardeshi and Ramanath Jha who is the chairman of the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee.
No. of shops/offices that will have their locks broken soon
Day the Bombay High Court directed MHADA to remove belongings of all the tenants, residential and commercial, from Esplanade Mansion
Age of Esplanade Mansion
Letter sent to CM Devendra Fadnavis
'IIT Bombay reports are prepared by a single individual and undergo no formal peer review. Hence, the report submitted is not the view of the institution but of a single employee. While we respect the outcomes of the report from the institution, surely a more realistic and practical approach is possible. Esplanade Mansion is a well-engineered structure and can be fully repaired at a reasonable cost well short of new construction'
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