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139-yr-old clock tower to get facelift

The iconic clock tower at Crawford market is finally going to get a facelift. The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee gives its nod regarding the restoration, writes Gigil Varghese.

art and culture Updated: Mar 27, 2009 17:21 IST
Gigil Varghese
Gigil Varghese
Hindustan Times

The iconic 139-year-old clock tower at Crawford market is finally going to get a facelift. The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) has given its nod regarding the restoration of the Grade I heritage structure.

“We have got the final go-ahead for the main structure,” said conservation architect Abha Narian Lambah. “We are ready with the tenders, the municipal corporation needs to take a call when they want to float it,” she said.

However, with the elections round the corner and the code of conduct being imposed, the restoration work on the tower will start only after the polls.

Last month, the MHCC was to decide if the entire market complex is Grade I — under which the strictest rules of heritage conservation are followed — or only the clock tower would be Grade I. The decision has not been taken yet.

The Urban Development Department headed by the Chief Minister would take a final call, as reported by Hindustan Times on February 27.

If the entire complex is declared a Grade I heritage structure, the redevelopment will not be possible. Answers to questions such as whether the main courtyard will be air-conditioned also rest on the grade decision.

“Since the final decision on whether a tall building is going to come up in the complex is still pending we will not be airconditioning the fruit and vegetable market,” said Lambah.

The controversy over the redevelopment of the Crawford Market, where a private developer was given the rights to redevelop the market with an FSI of 4, has been raging for two years.

FSI is an indicator of the amount of construction allowed on a plot. Higher the FSI, more the amount of construction that is allowed on a particular piece of land. In this case, it would mean that the main heritage tower would be dwarfed by the new glass market building.

About the market:
The Brihanmumbai Mun-icipal Corporation (BMC)-owned market site has been cast in controversy since 2007 when corporators decided to allow shopkeepers and a private developer to build a controversial shopping mall in the open spaces of the 169-year-old market complex.

According to a BMC-commissioned 2007 document, the developer would earn an estimated Rs 1,710 crore.

The sprawling Gothic-style market has close to 900 licenced shopkeepers — family traders in fruits, vegetables, meat and imported savories from chocolates to cheese — owning rented spaces since generations.

First Published: Mar 27, 2009 17:04 IST