The residents of Girgaum’s Khotachi Wadi had to cancel their silent march planned on Sunday evening to protest the building of an 18-storey tower on one of their plots.
But more than 300 people from all over the city came to participate in a signature campaign to save Bungalow No. 35 from being razed.
The planned protest march was called off after local police told the residents that it could be a law and order problem.
Residents say the 150-year-old Portuguese-style bungalow, located in the centre of the Khotachi Wadi, has been bought by Deekay builders for the construction of a high-rise that will be completely incompatible with the existing infrastructure.
“There are a lot of other places that builders can use to build, but their greed should not be allowed when it’s a question of destroying our heritage,” said Luv Parikh, finance professional from Malabar Hill who came to express his solidarity with the residents by signing in the petition book placed at Khotachi Wadi’s oratory.
Over 25 students from Jai Hind College were present to take visitors on informal guided tours to the threatened bungalow.
“We read about the issue in the papers and decided to support the cause,” said Kashish Parpiani, a mass media student from the college.
Khotachi Wadi was declared a grade III heritage precinct by the civic body in 1995. Its streets and lanes are narrow, and several residents claim their water problems have intensified ever since Bungalow No. 1 gave way to the seven-storey Deccan Chambers.
“A tower will ruin not just the aesthetics and charm of the precinct but also the practicality of living,” said Sameera Khan, an independent researcher and writer from the area.
“So many different types of structures are possible in a city besides high-rises. They should all be allowed to co-exist.”
Members of the Khotachi Wadi Welfare and Heritage Trust are confident that their campaign to support old houses and coax old residents not to sell off their property will gather steam.
“It is so difficult to get permissions from the heritage committee when we want to renovate our homes, but the builders seem to get clearances so easily. We have to make them responsible,” said James Ferreira, member of the Trust’s managing committee.
The Trust has planned a meeting with 30 other wadi groups and non-profit organisations to discuss the issue on December 4.