Imagine walking around Kala Ghoda on Saturday evening with no cars honking at you, enjoying a performance by a local band and taking in the sights of the city’s heritage buildings.
If the city’s new guardian minister Nawab Malik has his way, Mumbai will soon sport just such a weekend bazaar in south Mumbai’s Fort area. Also on the cards: A night food court at Ballard Estate, which folds up in the mornings, and major restorations and conservation of heritage buildings in the city.
On Wednesday, Malik set the ball rolling by chairing a meeting of BMC and state officials and heritage conservationists. He set up a committee under Collector I.M. Kundan to work out a detailed proposal.
“It will be a boost for tourism and even citizens will find a new weekend spot to hang around. It’s like having a city festival every weekend, where you can showcase city culture,” said Malik.
Malik’s idea, adopted from many global cities, is to have a 24/7 weekend market — mobile stalls selling curios and souvenirs, food stalls, cultural shows etc — where cars are barred entry and only pedestrians and horse-drawn buggies are allowed.
“One of the suggestions at the meeting today was that we start this weekend market on an experimental basis and check out the response. Then we can work out detailed logistics and go ahead,” said Kundan.
Major heritage buildings in the city will also get a facelift and will be lit up on weekends. A dedicated corpus for heritage structures is being considered, with funds sought from the Centre under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Mission (JNNURM) and by levying a heritage surcharge on hoardings in the city.
Kundan and conservationists Abha Lambah and Vikas Delawari — also on the committee — will also prepare a priority list of heritage buildings requiring a facelift.
In the first phase, with Rs 15 crore given by former guardian minister Jayant Patil, the collector has already taken up restoration of five buildings: Asiatic Library, Old Secretariat, Old Customs House, Institute of Science and Elphinstone College.