IIT-Bombay's report to be challenged in High Court on June 21
Views of noted urban planner and civil engineer, who has found the report to be inaccurate, will be part of PIL to be filed in the high court today, seeking restoration of the building.
As part of a fight to save the 150-year-old Esplanade Mansion, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) will file a PIL in the High Court today to challenge the validity of IIT-Bombay's report, which says the heritage structure should be demolished. Rajan Jayakar, convenor of INTACH, said the views of a noted urban planner and civil engineer, who has found the report to be inaccurate, would be included in the PIL.
Pointing out that there was only one intention behind filing the PIL – to save the building and highlight the reasons why the structure should not be demolished, Jayakar said, "We have challenged the structural stability report and, have, in fact, appealed to the court to not consider it at all. Everyone is talking about the fact that the building has a cast iron structure but nobody is going into the history of how it was nominated for the World Heritage tag. We have pointed out many documents, which talk about the decision taken by the UNESCO committee. We will also include the views of a structural engineer in the PIL."
He further said that after studying IIT Bombay's reports, the engineer listed out several lacunae in it and recommended a thorough investigation. "Based on the cost factor, the IIT report has arrived at the conclusion that the building should be demolished. It hasn't even considered restoration. A report on structural stability requires mapping and identifying the soft points. They have stated in the report that they had limited access to the structure as tenants were still occupying the galas. They have only inspected the passages and not the complete building," added Jayakar.
As part of the argument to prevent the building's demolition, Jayakar said they would highlight two important factors. "The tenants have evacuated the premises, and if all the illegal constructions in the building are identified and demolished, the load on the structure will automatically reduce. Our aim is to restrain MHADA from demolishing the building and appointing proper officials to see how it can be restored. There is no precedence to this kind of a case since there is no other building like this one in India," he said.
In the last hearing, MHADA had accepted IIT-Bombay's recommendations and asked the court for permission to demolish the building. Apart from heritage conservationists, who have been advocating efforts to save the heritage building, the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee also recommended steps to preserve the iconic structure instead.
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