The Mumbai Heritage Conservation committee’s (MHCC) move to make the heritage transfer of development rights more lucrative is aimed at preventing demolition of these buildings as redevelopment of old buildings is catching on like wildfire in the island city.
The redevelopment, especially under cluster development, could ring the death-knell for many heritage structures. The offers from properties in areas like south Mumbai are too tempting for owners.
Also, the current housing policies aimed at rebuilding the city threaten the distinct visual character of the city, by aiming to replace it with a skyline of homogenous high-rises, heritage activists feel.
Due to these policies, Taporewala Mansion in Cuffe Parade is being demolished, tall towers have sprung up around Khotachi Wadi, Carmichael Road, Marine Drive which are all heritage precincts and the most vulnerable to cluster development are areas such as Kalbadevi, Bhuleshwar and Girgaum, that have plenty of listed heritage structures.
A senior civic official, not wishing to be named, said, “Many heritage property owners had said simply offering them TDR was not the solution, as the value they got for that TDR in the suburbs, as compared to the gains they could have made on the property itself, were negligible. Hence, indexing TDR financially is a good move.”
Currently, there are no incentives in store for listed heritage property owners who conserve their properties. Last year, the MHCC had written to the state urban development department suggesting a set of incentives to be offered to listed heritage property owners. These involved making it permissible for owners to fund conservation from individual owners, trusts or non-governmental organisations (NGO) and giving tax benefits on these donations.
The new heritage compensation policy is being formed after municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar met MHCC members two weeks ago, where Kumar asked the latter to work out the monetary loss to owners of listed buildings if kept away from re-development. A final decision will be taken at the MHCC meeting scheduled on Thursday.