The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) is going to mull over an important question that concerns one of the city’s oldest surviving heritage structures.
The committee is to meet on Thursday to discuss if the entire complex of the 139-year-old Crawford Market is a Grade I heritage structure, which would make the strictest conservation rules applicable, or only the clock tower is Grade I. The question has opened a two-year-old controversy over the redevelopment of the market, where a private developer was granted the rights to redevelop it with a floor space index (FSI) of 4.
It would have led to the new market building dwarfing the main heritage tower.
FSI is an indicator of the amount of construction allowed on a plot. The greater the FSI, the higher a structure can go.
The heritage committee had put this question to the Urban Development Department, though committee sources said an official query had not been sent yet.
If all of the complex is declared a Grade I heritage structure, the redevelopment will not be possible. Answers to questions such as whether the main courtyard will be air-conditioned also rest on the grade decision.
Abha Narain Lambah, who is restoring the heritage building, said she was waiting for a decision from the MHCC to accordingly go about her job. “Whether to declare the entire complex a heritage structure or not depends on the committee,” said Lambah. “If all of it is declared heritage, then the main courtyard will not be air-conditioned.”
The Crawford Market restoration was begun in October. “The Crawford Market redevelopment scam floated by the BJP-Shiv Sena in the BMC has reached a tipping point,” South Mumbai member of Parliament Millind Deora said. “The Mayor first opposed it and later proposed it.”