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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

Repair, don’t demolish Esplanade Mansion, says heritage committee

In a meeting held on Wednesday, the MHCC unanimously decided that considering the uniqueness of the structure, an effort should be made to restore it by repairing rather than going for demolition.

mumbai Updated: Jun 13, 2019 12:50 IST
Mehul R Thakkar
Mehul R Thakkar
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Committee members said that given that the structure has already been vacated, there is chance now to wait and explore if restoration by repair is possible.
Committee members said that given that the structure has already been vacated, there is chance now to wait and explore if restoration by repair is possible.(HT Photo)
         

The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) on Wednesday suggested that a last-ditch effort should be made to preserve Esplanade Mansion at Kala Ghoda, which is more than 150 year-old, by exploring the possibility of repairing it rather than opting for demolition.

This recommendation comes after the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) had sought its opinion on the restoration of the UNESCO-recognised heritage structure against the backdrop of an IIT-Bombay report concluding that the building was unsafe.

In a meeting held on Wednesday, the MHCC unanimously decided that considering the uniqueness of the structure, an effort should be made to restore it by repairing rather than going for demolition.

Committee members said that given that the structure has already been vacated, there is chance now to wait and explore if restoration by repair is possible.

“We have decided that a last effort should be taken by considering whether repair and restoration would be possible for Esplanade Mansion. We will submit our opinion to Mhada and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation [BMC], considering it is also one of the parties in the Bombay high court [HC] case,” said Ramnath Jha, chairman of MHCC.

The historic Esplanade Mansion at Kala Ghoda is recognised as India’s oldest surviving cast iron building. Construction of the structure was completed in 1869 following which it was known as the Watson’s Hotel, named after the building’s original owner John Watson.

The building was recognised by UNESCO as a Grade II-A heritage structure. It came under the radar post-2005 after a part of it had collapsed and even the Mhada declaring the structure to be a dilapidated structure citing it is unsafe to reside in.

First Published: Jun 13, 2019 12:50 IST

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