Signature campaigns, hoardings and door-to-door political propaganda to object the inclusion of the Shivaji Park precinct on the proposed heritage list has led to the generation of enormous public response, say experts.
The BMC’s development plan department, which is accepting recommendations to the proposed heritage list, has received about 1,000 signatures, 10 days before the September 30 deadline. Most recommendations, officials said, were objections to the inclusion of Shivaji Park precinct.
On August 31, the initial deadline for receiving public suggestions and objections, HT had reported that the BMC had received barely 15 responses.
The officials had blamed the lukewarm response on technical glitches and lack of awareness. However, this steep rise in response has alarmed officials and heritage experts, who consider it an outcome of a mass mobilisation of crowds and the large-scale misinformation on the redevelopment of proposed heritage structures.
“Even though there might be recommendations by people who are genuinely concerned about heritage, I fear that a majority of the responses are a result of deliberate mobilisation of people,” said Neera Adarkar, heritage conservationist.
Prasad Shetty, secretary, Mumbai Metropolitan Region- Heritage Conservation Society (MMR-HCS) said: “There is a lack of long-term understanding of the issue. Most of these responses are knee-jerk recommendations, which if not reviewed accurately, could impact the overall planning strategy of the city. MMR-HCS was the body commissioned by the civic body to prepare a detailed report of heritage precincts and structures in the city.
Senior civic officials claimed that the huge response was also because of the ongoing debate on the issue by media and politicians. “With increased discussion and talk in media portals about the issue, people who had not checked the list earlier, have now become interested and aware,” said Sitaram Kunte, municipal commissioner. “However, we will review the recommendations, and if necessary, members from the review committee will visit the places to check the status,” he added.