In a last-ditch attempt to save the iconic snow-white Nazarbaug Palace in Mandvi, heritage conservationists are set to take legal steps to stop its demolition by the family and restore it.
A team of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), state government officials and the Indian Institute of Architects Baroda and Gujarat (IIA) have come together to move a PIL in the High Court to stall the demolition of the “deemed Grade I Heritage Building”.
Experts cite a March 2014 report, prepared by INTACH at the insistence of Sangramsinh Gaekwad’s family, in which, after evaluating the structure, INTACH had recommended restoring the Nazarbaug Palace.
Announcing their decision, Co-Convenor of INTACH for Gujarat, Sanjeev Joshi said, “We are trying our best to save a monument that has great significance to the heritage of the city. We will move court, seeking direction to make the authorities act. The family’s argument that the structure can not be restored is incorrect as the INTACH team invited by them has evaluated the structure and deemed it fit to be restored, as reported in March. They had assured INTACH they would follow it.”
Advocate Sudhanshu Bhattji, who is representing Gaekwad said, “They are free to move court with a PIL, but they must explain why they remained silent for all these years when the structure was getting ruined. When we took possession of the property, it was not even in a position to stand.”
The report states, “The owners were also assured that though the building is indeed in a highly deteriorated state it can still possible be restored by means of some creative ideas, so that post restoration, the building could be utilized for alternative uses including for commercial purposes like emporiums, hotels or offices etc. They were also advised to explore the possibilities of developing the vacant land, adjoining the building. for new contractions of housing if required.”
Meanwhile, Joshi said VMC can make exceptions by awarding the family a higher FSI for the 1.75 lakh sqft compound, if they agree to help restore it. Joshi and the other experts have also decided to persuade VMC to move ahead with implementation of the 2012 Revised General Development Control Regulations, under which a “Heritage Conservation Committee” has to be formed by the civic body to oversee the fate of heritage assets in the city.