World Monuments Fund: Distressed by your Esplanade Mansion demolition plans

Updated: Jul 13, 2019, 08:38 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

In letter to BMC, state, World Monuments Fund that works to preserve historic architectures across the world expresses concern

The Esplanade Mansion at Fort is a 150-year-old structure built in cast iron. File pic
The Esplanade Mansion at Fort is a 150-year-old structure built in cast iron. File pic

After heritage conservationists and international organisations, the World Monuments Fund, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation of historic architecture and cultural heritage sites around the world has now raised concerns about the possible demolition of the Esplanade Mansion.

In a letter to civic chief Praveen Pardeshi, the heritage committee, the chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and the Urban Development Department, director Bahram Vakil has stated that the then Watson Hotel was listed on the World Monuments Watch list — a program that draws global attention to historic structures under threat. Vakil added that the Esplanade Mansion is "even more endangered" and added that "decay has increased and since then there have been further collapses and even loss of life."

Also Read: Why Esplanade Mansion must be saved

Vakil, in his letter, said, "We are extremely distressed to learn that rather than restore and rehabilitate this architectural legacy, there has been a move to destroy the building. It is a matter of grave concern that this structure, located in the newly-designated World Heritage Site, faces the threat of demolition."

Referring to the Esplanade Mansion as "an integral part of the ensemble," Vakil said that the loss of the building would diminish the value of the ensemble and place Mumbai's World Heritage Site at risk. Vakil suggested that a comprehensive reuse plan will "undoubtedly drive economic opportunity" and its conservation will add significant value to the many structures which have already been restored.

Also Read: Esplanade demolition: Activists say MHCC should have taken a stronger stand

The World Monuments Fund's letter follows earlier representations sent by TICCIH, a UK-based organisation and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) who similarly urged the state government to intervene and ensure that the last surviving cast iron structure in India is restored. The decision now rests with the Bombay High Court with the next hearing scheduled for August 8.

Also Read: 'Esplanade's abused state is testament of its strength'

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