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Kunal Purohit , Hindustan Times
Mumbai, July 22, 2013
Flouting norms, at least eight buildings in the proposed heritage precinct at Shivaji Park have gone in for redevelopment without any heritage nod since 2008, when the heritage list was first proposed, revealed a fresh survey conducted by the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC).
This is in violation of laws under the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act, 1960, which makes it mandatory for buildings in a proposed heritage precinct to get a nod from the panel for redevelopment.

According to the survey, four buildings are under construction while four more are set to be demolished. For conservationists, this is proof that builders are eyeing the precinct for its realty. “We found that there has been a rush to get sanctions and start redevelopment ever since the proposed heritage list was released. Not only is this wrong but it is also illegal. The BMC should have consulted us before approving these,” said a member of the MHCC, who is not authorised to speak to the press.

The survey also found that a total of 14 buildings have already undergone redevelopment in the precinct. One building, plot number 1815, was being demolished on Sunday when Hindustan Times visited the precinct.

Locals said that the number will keep on rising unless the civic body implements the law. “There are other buildings that haven’t been included in the survey but will undergo redevelopment soon if not stopped,” said Ashok Ravat, a resident and chairman of the G-North citizens forum.

Ever since the proposed list included Shivaji Park as a heritage precinct, developers and political parties have come out strongly against the move. Parties such as Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena have circulated letters to residents on why the area should not be included in the precinct. (HT has a copy of these letters.)

The issue of heritage versus development is going to get more heated in the coming days as the high court hears a petition filed by two residents, demanding the scrapping of the proposed list.

BMC chief Sitaram Kunte refused to comment, despite repeated attempts.