Sixteen years after it was first proposed, Marine Drive is officially a heritage precinct. In a notification issued earlier this month, the state declared the 4.4km stretch as a listed heritage area.
This comes two months after the heritage review panel, headed by retired chief secretary Dinesh Afzalpurkar, submitted its report to the state government. The report had recommended large parts of the area to be tagged as heritage.
What this means is that the stretch will be protected from reckless vertical growth and development. The redevelopment of buildings will be regulated by special guidelines and need the permission of the civic body, under its development control regulations.
While the long-pending announcement is a victory for the heritage conservationists and residents, it may be a partial one, for now. The government had not made public the exact areas that the Marine Drive precinct will constitute. This has left stakeholders worried that the government may have shrunk the area of the precinct.
The municipal commissioner had, in July 1999, proposed the inclusion of Marine Drive as a heritage precinct, after which it was opened for feedback from citizens.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), however, submitted an official proposal to the state eight years later, listing out its recommendations of the boundaries. The state’s approval had been pending since then.
Residents say their fears stem from the past actions of the government and the civic body. In 2012, the BMC approved the construction of a 61.3m, 13-storey tower as a ‘special case’.
Residents took the civic body to court and got a high court order setting set aside the permissions given for the building, Vasant Sagar.
Nayana Kathpalia, member of the Oval Cooperage Residents Association, which was a copetitioner in the litigation, said, “We are elated that they [the government officials] have at least taken a decision to notify this area as a precinct. However, the announcement in itself may not mean much unless we study the finer details of the area and its boundaries.”