Save Esplanade Mansion: Dilawari backs out of panel to decide on restoration

Updated: Dec 10, 2019, 07:42 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

The conservation architect dropped out due to personal reasons; another expert yet to be appointed on the three-member committee

The committee was formed after INTACH recommended names of experts for the panel. File pic
The committee was formed after INTACH recommended names of experts for the panel. File pic

Days after the Bombay High Court appointed a three-member committee to determine whether the 150-year-old Esplanade Mansion can be restored, one of the members dropped out last week. Conservation architect Vikas Dilawari backed out due to personal reasons and another expert will take his place, based on the fresh suggestions made by INTACH, as well as the owner of the building.

The committee was formed after INTACH recommended names of experts for the panel. On December 2, the division bench of Justice SJ Kathawalla and Justice BP Colabawalla picked structural architect Chetan Raikar and conservation architects Abha Narain Lambah and Vikas Dilawari as members of the committee. Sources said Dilawari was unable to take on the responsibility as he had to care for his mother who is unwell.

Other recommendations

Rajan Jayakar, convenor of INTACH and the petitioner of the public interest litigation, said he had recommended two names to the High Court including Pankaj Joshi, executive director of the Urban Design Research Institute, and structural engineer Kamal Hadkar. Jayakar said that the landlord had a recommendation of his own, architect Reza Kabool, which they didn't agree to as they felt he wasn't a conservation architect.

Cherag Balsara, the advocate representing the landlord, Sadiq Ali said, "We had made a recommendation of our own but have accepted Pankaj Joshi as a member of the committee." Based on the High Court's order, the panel was supposed to submit its report by 3.30 pm on December 18. However, since the members haven't visited Esplanade Mansion yet, sources said that the report is likely to be delayed.

Conducting tests

When contacted, both Lambah and Raikar said that unlike IIT Bombay, they will examine the inside of the structure and conduct chemical tests if necessary. "In order to determine whether the structure can be saved, we have to go inside and see every nook and cranny. We will take on the responsibility on a war-footing as soon as we get permission from MHADA to enter the premises," said Raikar.

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