City’s blueprint plans to strip heritage panel of its powers

  • Kunal Purohit, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 30, 2015 00:44 IST

After not marking 1,000 heritage structures, the draft development plan has also proposed to strip the city’s heritage panel of its powers to approve changes to Grade 1 and Grade 3 structures.

This exposes precious landmarks such as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, BMC headquarters, Gateway of India and Crawford Market to reckless development.

At present, the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) has the powers to approve or reject changes made to such structures. But the Special Development Control Regulations (SDCR) in the DP proposes to take away these powers from the panel, and instead, give it to the municipal commissioner.

Further, changes to Grade 3 structures, like Saifee Hospital for instance, and precincts can be made without the panel’s nod. This change opens up nearly 20,000 buildings to redevelopment without the panel’s nod.

Heritage panel members said the proposal to dilute their mandate sets the city back in time.

Mumbai was the first city to adopt progressive heritage conservation norms in 1995, when section 67 of the Development Control Regulations was sanctioned.

“There are clear dilutions in the new DCR and this is disappointing. The role of the committee must not be undermined,” said V Ranganathan, MHCC chairman.

Last week, it came to light that of the 1,577 graded heritage properties in the city (not including precincts), more than 1,000 were not marked in the draft DP. In other words, all these structures would no longer get the protection heritage norms guarantee.

Panel member and heritage conservation architect Pankaj Joshi said, “These changes will obliterate and destroy the most significant heritage structures and precincts in Mumbai. This is a conscious and premeditated attempt to do away with heritage sites and regulations.”

The panel is finalising its objections to the DP and will be making a representation to the civic body’s DP department, Ranganathan said.

Despite attempts to reach him, BMC chief Sitaram Kunte chose not to respond to HT’s queries.

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