Keen to restore the old glory of 130-year-old Esplanade Mansion at Kala Ghoda, the heritage conservation panel has requested the planning agency to provide financial assistance for the work.
After Hindustan Times had reported in July on how the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority’s (Mhada) restoration work was damaging the Grade- II A heritage structure, the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) had asked Mhada to maintain status quo and stop work.
This was the first heritage restoration assignment for Mhada, which focuses on construction of affordable housing.
After the stop-work notice was issued, the heritage committee wrote to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region- Heritage and Conservation Society, the heritage arm of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, seeking financial assistance for the project.
"We have written to Ratnakar Gaikwad, the chairman of MMR-Heritage and Conservation Society, and requested him to take a meeting with all stakeholders and see if they can provide any assistance," said Dinesh Afzalpurkar, chairman, MHCC.
Members of the heritage committee said Mhada doesn’t have the expertise nor the funds required to restore the structure to its original beauty.
"The MHCC knows that Mhada is not the right choice, but as the landlords cannot afford the restoration we had to give to Mhada as it needs urgent repairs," said a member of the committee, requesting anonymity.
The four-storey Esplanade Mansion is the oldest cast iron structure in the city and once housed the famous Watson’s Hotel, which was built by John Watson between 1867 and 1871.
Watson had acquired the plot through an auction that was held in 1864 at a steep rate of Rs 110 per square yard.
In 2006, the building was placed on the Global Watch List of 100 World Endangered Monuments by the New York-based World Monuments Fund.
Earlier, too, many efforts were made to restore the neglected building.
In 2006-07, former MHCC chairman Sharad Upasani had written to the government, Mhada and the Kala Ghoda Association, who were then interested in restoring the building by raising funds and appointing conservation architects, the owners and the tenants.
However, none of the agencies had replied.