Restoring Esplanade: Government puts the onus on landlord
UD department tells MHADA to restore the heritage structure and recover the costs from the landlord, failing which the property will be acquired.
Responding to a letter sent by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) in July last year, the Urban Development department, on January 14, told them to restore the Esplanade Mansion and recover the costs from the landlord. In view of the high costs involved in restoration, the department has also told MHADA to consider acquiring the property if the landlord fails to pay.
In the last letter sent in June, the Urban Development (UD) department had asked MHADA to get another structural report from experts, who work on heritage structures, and restore Esplanade Mansion as per heritage standards. The MHADA had then written to UD in July stating that it doesn't have the funds to restore the structure and asked the state government to sanction special funds to the tune of Rs 30 crore.
HC's decision would be based on the report filed by the panel of experts to determine whether restoration was possible and financially viable. File pic
According to the response sent by the UD department on January 14, it has asked MHADA to take a second opinion from experts and assess the restoration costs. It further mentions that the MHADA officials should then ask the landlord to restore the structure, and if the landlord fails to do so, then it should carry out the restoration work and recover the costs from him. Based on the UD's directions, the landlord stands to lose the property if he fails to bear the costs of restoring the heritage structure.
When contacted, Cherag Balsara, the advocate representing landlord Sadiq Ali, said, "The question of acquiring the property doesn't arise. The landlord has said in open court that he along with legitimate tenants will be bearing the expenses to restore the structure."
When asked about the letter, Milind Mhaiskar, vice president of MHADA, said, "The MHADA will act as per the government's instructions." Some of the tenants, however, have raised concerns over the landlord's demand for a contribution since they are unable to afford it.
The fate of the structure is still pending in the Bombay High Court. While the landlord has offered to pay for the structure's restoration in court, the HC's decision would be based on the report filed by the panel of experts to determine whether restoration was possible and financially viable.
The report is expected by the end of this month.
The amount of special funds MHADA had sought from the govt
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