In gaothans, it’s past vs future

Updated on Apr 26, 2010 12:55 AM IST
Should Mumbai’s 189 indigenous villages remain gaothans, even as the rest of the city is transformed around them, or should they have the option of developing, redeveloping and growing as they wish?
HT Image
HT Image
Hindustan Times | ByMini Pant Zachariah & Zara Murao, Mumbai

Should Mumbai’s 189 indigenous villages remain gaothans, even as the rest of the city is transformed around them, or should they have the option of developing, redeveloping and growing as they wish?

In a city where heritage is treated with nonchalance, conservationists say it would be a crime to let the quaint, winding lanes and charming homes be replaced by concrete blocks.

But ask the gaothan residents, and you hit a raw nerve.

“We have been neglected by our elected representatives and successive governments,” says Godfrey Pimenta, resident of the Marol gaothan and head sarpanch of the Mobai Gaothan Panchayat.

After pleading for decades for better drainage systems, more regular water supply and an easing of restrictions on basic repairs on their heritage structures, Mumbai’s gaothans united last month to form an extra-constitutional panchayat.

They have no real powers, yet. But they are monitoring work in their areas, demanding to know how funds are spent. And threatening to enter politics via the 2012 municipal elections if they don’t get what they want.

One of their key demands is a higher floor-space index — which would mean they could add vertically to their homes. While the gaothan residents say they need this additional space to accommodate their growing families, conservationists and urban development experts say it would ruin the character of the gaothans and further stress the already overburdened infrastructure in these areas.

Worse still, a higher FSI would undoubtedly see some homeowners give in to private builders and sell their prime plots.

As heritage conservationist David Cardoz put it: “Gaothans already have a higher FSI than the rest of the city. How else could they have two-storey homes on such tiny plots?”

Meanwhile, the Mobai panchayat is growing in strength, with the 17 sarpanches and deputy sarpanches elected recently now representing the villages in all dealings with the civic and state governments.

Pankaj Joshi, director of Urban Development Research Institute, who has studied the city gaothans, says this may be the best thing for them, but cautions that there cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution to the complex issues they face. BMC standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale, who has spearheaded infrastructure development work in the three Trombay gaothans, says the best thing for the gaothans may be for the panchayat to work from within the system.

“Their parallel group has no legal standing,” he says. “The MGP should contest elections and join the BMC if they want to make a difference.”

So, is the Mobai Gaothan Panchayat just what these villages need? A look at the varying opinions…

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • People gather near the banks of the Yamuna river where a boat capsized in Uttar Pradesh’s Banda on August 11. (PTI Photo)

    Banda boat tragedy: Death toll rises to 12; three still missing

    The death toll in the Banda boat tragedy rose to 12 on Sunday after one more body was recovered three days after the fateful mishap in the Yamuna river on August 11. Three more bodies are still missing and search operations were going on, Banda superintendent of police Abhinandan said. “Three bodies are missing. The search operation by the NDRF, SDRF and PAC divers are underway,” he said.

  • Vinayak Mete. (Facebook Photo)

    Maharashtra: Maratha reservation activist and MLC Vinayak Mete dies in accident

    Vinayak Mete, Maharashtra legislative council member and leader of pro-Maratha outfit Shiv Sangram, died early on Sunday morning when the SUV he was travelling in met with an accident near Bhatan tunnel in Raigad district on the Pune-Mumbai expressway. While the driver escaped unhurt, he alleged that the highway control room did not respond. Expressway police officials claimed that Mete's driver was trying to overtake another vehicle when the accident took place.

  • File photo.

    'Role model for investors': Karnataka CM's rich tribute to Rakesh Jhunjhunwala

    Veteran investor and billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala died on Sunday morning at 62, prompting an outburst of condolences across the country. Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj S Bommai remembered the business magnate as "a role model for young investors". Karnataka health minister K Sudhakar also paid tributes to the ace investor. The minister defined Jhunjhunwala as the Warren Buffet of India and he even paid condolences to his family. He was reported to be battling health issues.


    Karnataka: Man kills his estranged wife in family court by slitting her throat

    In a shocking act, a man killed his estranged wife at a family court here on Saturday by allegedly slitting Chaitra's throat, police said. The family court was organised at Hole Narasipura to settle the discord among the couple where Chaitra (28) and Shivakumar (32) had also come. After the judge heard them, the court gave the couple the next date of hearing, Superintendent of Police R Srinivas Gowda told reporters.

  • Representational image.

    Rajasthan: Dalit student beaten to death for touching water pot of upper caste

    Family members of a nine-year-old Dalit boy from Rajasthan, who died at a hospital in Ahmedabad on Saturday, alleged that he was mercilessly beaten by a teacher for drinking water from a pot meant for people from the upper caste. Police said the accused teacher, Chail Singh (40),has been arrested and a case under section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and the SC/ST Act has been lodged.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, August 14, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now