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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

Action against heritage list violations

Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, September 03, 2013
First Published: 08:40 IST(3/9/2013) | Last Updated: 08:49 IST(3/9/2013)

The state advocate general’s (AG) note stating that redevelopment permissions given to proposed heritage structures without the heritage panel’s nod is set to raise hackles among those in the civic and builders’ circuits, while vindicating heritage conservationists.

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One major point of friction, however, is that while heritage activists have said all proposed heritage buildings redeveloped from 2008 onwards should be under the scanner, civic officials are saying that only those buildings redeveloped post July 2012 will be counted as violations.

In 2008, the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) approved the heritage list and submitted it to the civic body.

Instead of taking cognizance of it, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) delayed taking action. The civic body invited objections from citizens only in July last year.

Many have insinuated that this delay was to ensure that real estate lobby could benefit from pushing through proposals for redeveloping proposed heritage buildings.

Senior civic officials, however, are insisting that it will scrutinise the permissions given only since July last year, while heritage enthusiasts want the BMC to look at all buildings redeveloped since 2008.

“The list was made public last year. Hence, we will look at all buildings since then,” said a civic official.

Interestingly, the state AG leaves this aspect of the issue open-ended, and has quoted the section 46 of the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act, 1966, (MRTP) which states that the planning authority, the BMC, has to consider any draft or final plan that has been sanctioned or even submitted.

A member of the MHCC, not wishing to be named, said: “The MRTP makes it sufficiently clear that the BMC has to look at all the buildings it has approved since the list was submitted to them.”

V Ranganathan, chairman of the MHCC, admitted that there was confusion over the cut-off date that needs to be considered in this case.

“The BMC has been stating that 2012 is the cut-off date. However, we need to study the case for the date being pushed to 2008 and arrive at a conclusion.”

To begin with, Ranganathan has asked the civic body to present data on the number of proposed heritage buildings that have been given permissions for redevelopment since last year.

“Once that data is in, we will decide on our line of action,” added Ranganathan.

The AG’s note was in response to a query by the civic body over the fate of proposed heritage buildings that have applied for redevelopment permissions.


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