Weeks after the state government officially declared Marine Drive a heritage precinct – and 16 years after the idea was first mooted – it has released a map delineating the precinct’s exact boundaries.
The map, which has been accessed by Hindustan Times, has brought relief to local residents and activists pushing for the heritage tag, many of whom were worried that the state would significantly shrink the area of the original precinct, as proposed in 1999.
While the government has retained most areas mentioned in the 1999 proposal – including the entire Marine Drive stretch and all the buildings along it – buildings along Maharshi Karve Marg near Churchgate station and structures around Babulnath temple have curiously been omitted.
The map reveals that while the state has tweaked the boundaries of the original precinct, the most vital aspect - that of safeguarding the architecture along Marine Drive - has been left untouched.
The BMC had previously demanded that the heritage tag be given to only the first row of buildings along Marine Drive and omit subsequent rows. Such a move, it had argued, would not alter the area’s skyline or distort the area’s character. However, local residents and heritage conservationists had argued strongly against such a move. The release of the map confirms that the subsequent rows of buildings will also be protected.
However, structures that will not be accorded similar protection are those on Maharshi Karve Road, north of Eros Cinema, which includes some Art Deco structures. Also excluded are buildings around the Babulnath temple, off Marine Drive.
Pankaj Joshi, a member of the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee said, “This is a welcome development. We wish they had stuck to the original delineation. Nonetheless, nearly 70% of the original precinct area has been retained.”
Nayana Kathpalia, a member of the Oval Cooperage Residents Association (OCRA), which has gone to court to preserving Marine Drive’s skyline, also said the notification was a welcome step. “Now we hope that the implementation is spot-on and retains the character of the area.”
The declaration of Marine Drive as a heritage precinct means that the stretch will be protected from reckless redevelopment to retain its unique character. The redevelopment of buildings in the precinct will now be regulated by special guidelines and will require permission from the BMC under its development control regulations.
It will also be a big boost to the state government’s nomination of Marine Drive as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a Victorian and Art Deco Ensemble.