Political parties unhappy with Shivaji Park Heritage tag

Sep 09, 2013, 06:50 IST | Sujit Mahamulkar

After being given the 'heritage' tag by the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee, residents cannot make any repairs or redevelopments unless they secure permission

The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee works to preserve heritage structures and areas in Mumbai. But this very committee has turned into a hurdle for the residents of Shivaji Park.

A top-view of Shivaji Park, which has been included in the heritage list by Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee

After Shivaji Park precinct was included in the heritage list proposed in July 2012 by the then Heritage Committee, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has issued a circular (CHE/15115/DP/Gen of 14-08-2013) stating that no changes, repairs, demolitions or any modifications could be made to any structure in the list without the permission of the Heritage Committee. This means that for the smallest of repair work and modification, Shivaji Park residents will have to get a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Heritage Committee.

The Shivaji Park precinct has been named as a Grade-I structure in the proposed heritage list. After the list was declared last year, a special general body meeting was held by corporators to oppose the list. The latest circular too has met with disapproval from all parties. “Most buildings in Shivaji Park are over 60 years old. If they want to get any repair work done, they will have to get an NOC from the Heritage Committee. It will be a huge problem for them. The civic administration should withdraw this circular,” said Sandeep Deshpande, the corporator from MNS who represents Shivaji Park.

The Shiv Sena too has opposed the inclusion of the Shivaji Park precinct, gaothans and BDD chawls in the list. “If the BMC forces people to take NOCs for the repair and redevelopment because it is in the list of proposed heritage structures, we will surely oppose it,” said Yashodhar Phanse, leader of the House in the BMC.

After the list was proposed by the committee last year, the BMC published it and invited suggestions and objections from the public on the same. Sources said that there were over 4,000 objections to the inclusion of Shivaji Park in the list. The State Government will declare the final list of heritage structures, after carefully considering all the suggestions from the public. Dilip Lande, from the MNS said, “Unless the final heritage list is declared, the NOCs of the Heritage Committee shouldn’t be required for structure repairs and redevelopment.”

Shivaji Park is not the only area being disputed over. Residents of BDD chawls in Worli, Dadar, Sewri and Lower Parel are also opposing their inclusion in the heritage list. Sunil More, deputy leader of the Congress, who are fighting for the aforementioned BDD chawls, said, “These buildings have crossed 80 years and repairs are necessary. By the time the permissions are obtained from the Heritage Committee, repair work will get delayed and it might cause unpleasant incidents.” More said that he would raise the issue in the general body meeting and also plans to write to the Mayor.

Did you know?
The heritage list comprises over 800 structures including over 14 temples, around 8 masjids, 20 churches, a Buddhist temple, a marimma temple and other structures like cinema hall, statues, schools, colleges, police stations, government staff quarters, private bungalows, BDD chawls, lodges, playgrounds, gardens, cemeteries, gaothans, dispensaries, hospitals, banks, markets, bridges and post offices.

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