When Neil Pareira, a resident of Pali Gaothan, an erstwhile village in Bandra, learnt that his 150-year-old ancestral house with tiled roofs and wooden stairs is in the new heritage list, he had mixed feelings.
At first, Pareira was happy that land sharks that have gobbled up 20% of his quaint neighbourhood at Pali Mala road would keep off his house. But on the other hand, he does not know how he will maintain it. He wants financial incentives and a one-window clearance system, which will help him maintain his property.
A proposal put forth by the heritage committee is pending with the government that recommends financial incentives like additional development rights, declaring heritage precincts as special zones, and giving tax and loan concessions to owners of heritage properties.
More than six lakh residents stay across the 187 gaothans in the city, a majority of which is occupied by East Indians and Kolis (fisherfolk), the original inhabitants of Mumbai.
Out of these, 18 gaothans, most of which are prime real estate locations spread over the city - from Bandra up to Manori near the Gorai entertainment zone - have been included in the proposed heritage list.
"It is a dilemma. I want to preserve my house and the gaothan the way it is. But I hope we get financial incentives like additional TDR and also that I won't have to run for permissions for minor repairs," Pareira said. He added that the heritage move will render ineffective the current modus operandi of builders - they coax a majority of tenants of a building to come together and give their consent for redevelopment, which leaves landowners with no choice but to give in.
However, Vikram Rao, who stays in his 48-year-old family home at Chimbai village, which is declared as a heritage precinct, says that the heritage status might help villagers in redevelopment. "Because Chimbai is in a coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) and has lower FSI being a gaothan, the heritage tag will give it more FSI. This will hopefully help people expand homes after taking permissions. Of course, financial sops will help in maintaining the architecture of the old buildings."
Citizens have until September 30 to submit their suggestions and objections to the proposed list, said V Ranganathan, chairman of Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee.