More than two months after the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) gave its nod to the proposal by the Western India Football Association’s (Wifa) to construct a stadium on the Grade I Cooperage ground in Colaba, three of the eight members present in the meeting have now said the proposal was not approved.
These three members, all conservation architects — Abha Narain Lambah, David Cardoz and Pankaj Joshi — have sent a dissent note, alleging that minutes of the meeting were fudged to indicate an approval was granted where none was. The Cooperage proposal was tabled on December 11 last year, after the chairman, V Ranganathan, excused himself from the meeting. According to the minutes of the meeting, after the members asked for some clarifications from the architect, they approved the proposal.
The dissent note, however, said various members raised at least four objections to the proposal, including asking Wifa to issue a formal clarification on whether the ground would stay open to the public. It also says the proposal was kept in abeyance till a final decision could be taken in the next meeting in Ranganathan’s presence.
Defending the action, Ranganathan said, “The minutes of the meeting were circulated among members, but no one raised objections. So we decided to approve the proposal.”
HT has a copy of the nod issued to Wifa, dated December 17. Ironically, this nod was issued before these minutes could be discussed in the next meeting in January. Ranganathan said, “We made an exception with WIFA because they cited some urgent concerns. Hence, we gave it to them before the minutes were discussed in the next meeting.”
All three members who wrote the note remained unavailable for the comment.