Khotachiwadi demolition: Experts ask state to incentivise heritage property owners

Experts and residents have time and again urged the government to incentivise maintenance of heritage properties, such as via rebate in property tax, water tax
The original heritage list was made between 1975 to 1982, according to Sukthankar, after comprehensive consideration (Pratik Chorge/HT PHOTO)
The original heritage list was made between 1975 to 1982, according to Sukthankar, after comprehensive consideration (Pratik Chorge/HT PHOTO)
Updated on May 25, 2022 10:23 PM IST
Copy Link
ByEeshanpriya M S

Mumbai The recent protest against the partial demolition of a bungalow in the heritage precinct of Khotachiwadi in Girgaum has again stirred up the longstanding debate over the feasibility of maintaining heritage structures and the ethics of heritage conservation.

Experts and residents have time and again urged the government to incentivise maintenance of heritage properties, such as via rebate in property tax, water tax, or even aid in maintaining structural stability of such properties.

A senior civic official, who did not wish to be named, said, “If we do not preserve our heritage now, some years in the future you will hear the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) declaring that it’s creating a model of how heritage buildings looked. By then, the building or locality’s original charm will be lost.”

DM Sukthankar, a retired IAS officer and the former municipal commissioner, who also chaired the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC), said, “A decade ago, we proposed to the government to give incentives to heritage property owners, that will encourage them to look after their properties. We proposed an incentive in property tax. For those who want to take up the extensive structural repair work, we propose loans be made easily available from any registered bank, at lower than the usual interest rates.”

These suggestions were part of an exhaustive report following the upgradation of the heritage list. The original heritage list was made between 1975 to 1982, according to Sukthankar, after comprehensive consideration.

Sukthankar said, “At the time, we could see that generally, those who had their buildings listed as heritage properties, objected very strongly. We noticed that some people perceived the government is trying to restrict a private property owner in how to deal with their property, which is private business. The other aspect was that Mumbai is a historical heritage city, and we can join the community in preserving it. A city that wants to preserve its heritage, must be willing to give incentives as well. We were looking at it as a give and take relationship.”

Presently, no changes can be made to a Grade I heritage property. Mostly these are government-owned properties, or are temples or churches, and since institutions are incharge of their caretaking, it is easier and financially viable to maintain them, experts feel.

In case of Grade II structures, some alterations are permissible without changing the character of the precinct or structure, and in case of Grade III and precincts, changes can be made after permissions from the heritage committee, and without changing the character of the structure. Buildings in precincts may or may not have individually distinctive features, but need to conform to the collective characteristics of their neighbourhood.

Andre Baptista, a resident of Khotachiwadi and an archaeologist and culture historian, said, “We have to consider the ethics in heritage conservation. But at the same time, we cannot preach preservation, and tell private individuals to compromise on the quality of their life. Maintenance of heritage properties does become difficult. For example, homes in Khotachiwadi were buildit in the 1800s, and electricity and water connections were not part of their layout. We have to understand why we speak about preservation. It all comes down to the ethics of the matter. In my own home, we had to make the outhouse into a partial toilet.”

Baptista added, “Government does have a few incentives. They need to be curated well, need to be published and made accessible.”

Presently, owners of heritage buildings can sell the floor space index of their plot as transferred development rights (TDR) within the same ward as well. Moreover, cessed heritage buildings can approach MHADA for major repairs.

A member of the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee said, “Rules for heritage buildings have been drafted very clearly. There are incentives such as heritage TDR. Giving direct incentives to owners is a big process if it needs to be done. But no one is saying don’t repair your property. In fact, the grading of heritage structures allows owners a lot of interventions if done with all permissions.”

Rajan Jayakar, a solicitor and Mumbai historian, said, “I have spoken about this before on multiple platforms. We need to incentivize heritage property owners in some way, to encourage maintenance of heritage property.”

Heritage properties are often thought of as a liability by their owners, as repair work is tedious and redevelopment impossible due to existing rules.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • A case has been registered in Vidyanagar police station. (Representational image/Stock photo)

    Chandrashekhar Guruji death: Karnataka police nab 'saral vastu' expert's killers

    Karnataka Police nabbed the two assailants who stabbed Vastu expert Chandrashekhar Angadi popularly known as Chandrashekhar Guruji to death at a hotel in Hubballi on Tuesday. The two accused were detained by police in Ramdurg while they were trying to escape. According to Police, Chandrashekhar Guruji was staying at the hotel in Hubballi for the last four days. He was rushed to the KIMS Hospital where he was declared dead.

  • A man covers his head to protect from the sun on a hot summer day in New Delhi. (ANI Photo)

    Partly cloudy sky in Delhi today, thundershowers expected towards evening

    Delhi is likely to see cloudy sky with light rain on Wednesday, with light to moderate thundershowers expected towards evening, the India Meteorological Department said in its forecast. The minimum temperature on Wednesday is likely to be around 28 degrees Celsius, while the maximum temperature is predicted to reach 37 degrees Celsius. The maximum temperature on Tuesday was 37.9 degrees Celsius and the minimum temperature stayed at 29 degrees Celsius.

  • The second phase of polling will be held on July 13 and the counting would be done on July 17. (Pics for representation)

    Madhya Pradesh civic polls: 1st phase of voting in 44 districts today

    Polling across 44 districts for the first phase of elections to urban bodies in Madhya Pradesh begins today. A total of 1.04 crore voters are expected to exercise their franchise in the first phase of polling, an official informed news agency PTI. Voting will go on till 5pm, he added. Votes will be cast for municipal corporations including Bhopal, Indore, Gwalior, Jabalpur, Khandwa, Burhanpur, Chhindwara, Ujjain, Sagar, Singrauli and Satna.

  • The Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) declared the Class-10 results on Tuesday. (HT Photo)

    PSEB Class-10 results: Mohali rises in ranking, slips in pass percentage

    Even though Mohali district rose by two spots from last year's ranking in the PSEB Class 10 exams, its pass percentage dropped from 99.91% to 99%. Last year, Mohali was placed 17th among the 23 districts. This year, it improved its standing to 15th, with Gurdaspur district bagging the top spot. As many as 9,401 students from 109 Mohali schools appeared in the exams and 9,307 passed.

  • A pack of five atracurim vials, a paralytic drug used in anaesthesia, was lying near the doctor, with four of the vials empty, said Mohali police. (iStock)

    32-year-old doctor ends life in Mohali’s Phase 2

    A 32-year-old doctor allegedly ended his life by injecting himself with a paralytic drug used in anaesthesia at his rented accommodation in Phase 2 on Monday night. The doctor, who hailed from Rupnagar, was living alone in the rented house for the last three months and worked at a private hospital in Sector 34, Chandigarh. The autopsy will be conducted at the Phase-6 civil hospital on Wednesday.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, July 06, 2022