The upgradation of heritage structures remains the top priority of the Mumbai city’s District Planning and Development Council (DPDC), in addition to the improvement of hospitals and colleges that form a part of its 51-crore approved plan for 2011-12.
“We have set aside Rs 15-crore for restoration of the government-owned heritage structures in South Mumbai. We have identified about 14 buildings in all, but so far we have begun work on five structures,” said guardian minister Jayant Patil on Wednesday.
The five structures include the Old Customs building, the Old Secretariat building, the Asiatic library building, the Institute of Science and front building of the Sir JJ Hospital.
Apart from heritage building clean ups, Patil said it has been decided to frame a proposal for restoring the Mahim and Sion fort structures and preserving them as historical and heritage areas of tourist interest.
“In case of the Sion fort, a library needs to be set up there; rest of the fort is well maintained. But Mahim fort is encroached by over 350 families, who need to be relocated, and only then restoration work in the area can start,” said Patil.
However, setting aside Rs 51-crore for city development has not gone down very well with the members of the legislative assembly, who attended the meeting and demanded the budget be doubled to about Rs 100 crore.
They also raised questions on last year’s budget spending, which Patil confirmed had so far just about reached 75%.
On last year’s budget allocation of Rs 49.80 crore, only Rs 37 crore had been acquired and work orders for only Rs 27.5 crore had been been issued so far, Patil said.
“We raised the issue of existence of non-cess dilapidated buildings and demanded more funds to support structures that do not fall under any civic or state government scheme,” said Congress MLA Amin Patel.
Patil agreed that dilapidated buildings were a big issue and needed to be addressed on an urgent basis. “The budget is fixed according to the area and population of the district. But I will write to the finance department to increase the budget considering these special features of the district,” he said.