Former chairperson of the Mumbai heritage conservation commitee Sharad Upasani, has defended the proposed heritage list, insisting that a balance had to be struck between development and heritage conservation.
Upasani, who chaired the heritage committee and oversaw the preparation of the proposed list, told HT that the BMC's six year delay in implementing it would be a costly mistake.
The heritage committee submitted the report on the heritage sites and their grades to the civic body in 2008. Upasani served as chairman from August 2005 to July 2008.
Over the past few weeks, locals and politicians have lashed out at the civic body for including several structures - even some dilapidated chawls - in the proposed heritage list. Locals have threatened to organise hunger strikes, a signature campaign is underway and some corporators have demanded the scrapping of the entire proposed list.
The proposed heritage list has received strong opposition from locals and politicians, who have termed it 'redundant'. Several proposed heritage structures have collapsed or have been redeveloped, they claim. Comment.
It took almost six years for the civic body to publish the draft list since the time the spots were first inspected by heritage experts. This delay has cost the city several heritage structures. At the time of submitting the report to the BMC in 2008, the structures were neither dilapidated nor redeveloped. The grades were given on the basis of their condition then.
On what grounds were Shivaji Park, Hindu Colony and Bombay Development Directorate (BDD) chawls proposed for heritage status? Residents claimed the structures are already dilapidated and granting heritage status would make redevelopment difficult.
It is a misconception that redevelopment would not be possible if heritage status is granted. Shivaji Park is a lung area of the city, and granting grade I status to it would stop its misuse. At Hindu Colony, the original concept of township displayed when it was first inspected in 2006, has been lost to redevelopment permitted by the municipal corporation. Thus, what was inspected and what remains today has changed.
There have been questions raised about the efficiency and credibility of the inspections that were carried out. Some people have said the structures have been graded incorrectly. Comment.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region- Heritage Conservation Society (MMR-HCS) was commissioned to undertake the inspection of the existing spots and make additions to the list in 2005. For the first time, clear records including photographs and status reports of every site and structure visited were documented. On the basis of the report submitted by MMR-HCS, the heritage committee studied the spots and prepared the report.
On Saturday, civic chief Sitaram Kunte said the final list would be prepared and sent to the state government only by next year. Do you think one more year could affect city's heritage cover?
The municipal corporation has already spent six years in publishing the proposed list. Over the past few years, we have lost out on a significant number of heritage sites. I fear that on account of another delay, we won't be able to save more than 10% of the city's heritage.