Supporting the heritage status with other incentives would help protect the vulnerable settlements, say experts.
"Gaothans are examples of how the city was before the advent of the British era and industrialisation. They represent a vernacular style of architecture and depict an important layer in the city's social fabric," said Pankaj Joshi, executive director, Urban Design Research Institute.
"However, it is important to club the heritage status with substantial benefits, without which residents might consider the regulation to be a hindrance," he added.
"Providing heritage status will help save the community fabric and retain the existing street line, character and spirit of gaothans. The locals will be able to preserve their existing settlements without the fear of encroachments by real estate developers," said Abha Lambah, conservation architect.
"Culturally, gaothans are cohesive. They have played an important role in the economic and cultural history of the city," said Neera Adarkar, conservation architect, who recently completed a study on the Chembur gaothan, which is on the proposed heritage list. "They need to be preserved."