After stripping the heritage panel of its powers and refusing to mark 1,000 of the 1,577 Mumbai’s heritage structures in the draft development plan (DP), the BMC has now proposed to allow all Grade-III heritage structures and buildings in heritage precincts to be redeveloped up to 10-storeys.
The BMC has also kept an option open for developers to build beyond 10 storeys, with the civic chief having the authority to sanction such towers. These towers will not require the heritage panel’s permission.
The move is a blow to the city’s heritage as the development control rules of 1991 had restricted the height of Grade-III heritage structures to only 24 metres (around eight storeys). Areas such as Bandra, Marine Drive, Kotachiwadi, Oval precint, Horniman Circle precint, which have low-rise development, could be the worst hit.
Currently there are 14 heritage precincts in the city. The new heritage list had proposed 41 more such precincts.
As HT had reported on Monday, the proposed rules also allow all Grade-III buildings and those in heritage precincts to be redeveloped. Earlier, only cessed buildings could be redeveloped.
Interestingly, the new rules are a U-turn by BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte, who had, in August 2014, directed his officers to refer all proposals of redevelopment of buildings within the heritage list to the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC). The DP has now decided to strip the MHCC of its powers in sanctioning changes in Grade-I and Grade-III heritage structures.
Kunte and town planning officer Dinesh Naik refused to respond to HT’s queries on the issue.
Speaking to HT on Sunday, MHCC chairperson V Ranganathan had slammed the civic body for undermining the authority of the heritage panel and diluting heritage conservation norms. He was unavailable for comments on Monday.
A heritage panel member, who did not wish to be named, said the move was uncalled for. “It is as if the BMC is doing all it can to ensure that builders have it easy in constructing more buildings, even if it is at the cost of the city’s heritage.”