Restoration plans for Kala Ghoda’s historic Esplanade Mansion has hit another hurdle, with the Mumbai Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA), the agency revamping the building, saying repairs are now costing Rs. 17.89 crores.
MHADA is allowed to spend Rs. 2,000 per square meter on repairing buildings, but in the case of Esplanade Mansion, the cost far exceeds this limit. Last week, MHADA asked the landlord and tenants to either repair the building themselves or deposit the money needed for repairs with them. The building’s landlord Sadiq Ali said that MHADA has asked him to collect a No Objection Certificate allowing the them to carry out repairs themselves.
Esplanade Mansion, constructed between 1867 and 1871, is in a precarious state, and is in the list of ‘dangerous’ structures by the municipal corporation. Because of the dispute between the landlord and tenants, the landlord has stopped collecting rent since 1994.
The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation listed the building as a Grade II-A structure under urban heritage rules, which means that it is protected against demolition, and any restoration is to be done using original materials, like wood and cast iron. “This has pushed up the cost,” said a MHADA official.
It is a ‘cessed’ building, but the cess collected by MHADA from the owner and tenants for repairs is insufficient for restoration. The tenants disagree that it will cost Rs. 17.89 crores to repair the building. “We feel that the restoration can be done in Rs. 2.5 crores. The building is still structurally strong,” said a tenant.
That is only point of agreement between the landlord and tenants. “Our engineers have said that the building can be repaired at a cost of Rs. 3 crores. Even engineers consulted by the tenants have said this,” said Ali.