The state government, through the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), has not yet released any amount of the Rs 15 lakh that was committed recently to citizens groups and conservation bodies to prepare the dossier pitching the city's Oval Maidan area for the World Heritage tag awarded by the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The ground work for the dossier, which includes detailed line drawings and management plans for the site, will require at least Rs 30 lakh which is twice the amount that the government has verbally agreed to, said sources in the conservation movement. Rs 40-45 lakh would help make the dossier world class.
Titled “The Victorian and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai”, the submission was accepted by UNESCO in May. The comprehensive dossier has to reach the Union Ministry of Culture by January 2013. The Government of India can nominate one site every year for the World Heritage inscription. The tepid response of the state government may push Mumbai out of the race.
“It’s true that we are hampered by lack of resources,’ said conservationist Abha Narain Lambah, who is preparing the dossier on behalf of Urban Design Research Institute and other organisations.
“We, like Delhi, would have loved to call in international experts, hold symposiums and include elements that would strengthen our dossier, but it looks like ours will be a home-grown swadeshi one,” she added.
“Delhi – A Heritage City” is in contention for the title and the submission has received financial and logistical support from the local government. INTACH, the country’s premier cultural organisation, is helming the preparation of the dossier with inputs from international conservationists.
The groups working to prepare the Mumbai dossier would have liked to invite architects and conservationists from Liverpool, which bagged the World Heritage title recently on similar grounds; Mumbai’s Oval Maidan with 19th century Victorian Neo-Gothic buildings to the east and 20th century Art Deco construction to the west is the world’s only such collection of distinct styles facing each other.