The restoration of Esplanade Mansion, a 130-year-old heritage building in Kala Ghoda, has kicked up a storm, with tenants accusing the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) of damaging the structure.
The Esplanade Mansion is the oldest cast iron structure in the city, and once housed the famous Watson’s Hotel, where author Mark Twain has stayed. After the hotel closed, it was partitioned and let out on rent.
As the structure was dilapidated, the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) had asked the Mhada to undertake its restoration, which began a week ago. On Wednesday, tenants went to the MHCC alleging that Mhada had damaged the structure and requested it to intervene.
“The Burma teak flooring has been damaged. The way Mhada is carrying out repairs, it is causing tremendous damage,” said B.M. Gill, joint secretary of the Esplanade Welfare Association.
“The tenants are unhappy with the way the restoration is being done and want us to intervene,” an MHCC member said.
“We are doing our best with the limited resources and expertise available,” a Mhada official said, requesting anonymity.
Despite repeated attempts, the Mhada repair board’s chief officer, Subhash Hazare, was unavailable for comment.
This is the first heritage restoration assignment for Mhada, which focuses on construction of affordable housing.