While Betty Clifford, 70, is glad her 90-year-old duplex mansion on c in Bandra is on the heritage list as it keeps builders away, the upkeep of the bungalow is a financial struggle.
"The strict heritage regulations make it impossible for builders to redevelop it, so threats from them have stopped. But my annual expense on getting the roof replaced with new Mangalore tiles every year costs me Rs 60,000," said Clifford, who tries to recover the expense by allowing occasional film shoots on her premises.
But Clifford wants the government to step in and give incentives to heritage property owners, which are part of a proposal pending with the government for over a year.
The proposal, put forth by the former BMC commissioner Subodh Kumar on the basis of a report compiled by heritage committees of both the urban planning authority (MMRDA) and the civic body (BMC), and now pending with the state urban development department, recommends sops such as additional development rights, declaring heritage precincts special zones, and tax and loan concessions to owners (see box).
"When they cannot help me financially or give me concessions, how can they dictate terms on maintenance and conservation? I will ask them to push for the proposal," Clifford said. Several other owners of heritage structures on the new list of 868 sites are also happy with the heritage tag, but fall prey to builders due to lack of funds and incentives for maintaining them.
Mumbai heritage conservation committee chairman V Ranganathan said the proposal has been presented to the government, and a decision is awaited. "I agree that concessions will help in better preservation of buildings and more incentives need to be given to these owners apart from just allowing unused floor space index (FSI) to be used in the form of transfer of development rights (TDR)," he said.
BJP legislator Ashish Shelar, who is collecting signatures from citizens of Bandra, Khar and Santacruz, said he will push for the proposal to be accepted as many owners of heritage properties in these areas are hoping to get these concessions.