Mumbai’s Dhobi Ghat has been upgraded to a Grade-IIB heritage site. Touted often as the world’s largest outdoor laundry and a popular attraction among foreign tourists, the Dhobi Ghat at Mahalaxmi was earlier classified as a Grade-III landmark.
The revised listing has now put the site in the list of historical and local landmarks seen “contributing to the image and the identity of the city”. It will also impact the plans for its revamp.
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Local washermen’s community has taken up plans for the redevelopment of their houses in the locality under a slum redevelopment scheme. A court battle is currently going on over the scheme, said sources. On July 31, 2012, the Ghat debuted in the list of Mumbai’s heritage sites with a draft notification issued by the state government that classified it as a Grade-III heritage site — a “townscape contributing to determine the character of the locality.”
Dadar’s famous Khodadad Circle, along with the buildings surrounding it, have also climbed in the heritage rankings from Grade-III to Grade-IIB. The heritage block at the Bombay Scottish School, Church and Orphanage on Veer Sawarkar Road near the Mahim Bay has also similarly moved up the heritage charts, while Girgaon’s St Theresa Church has been elevated from Grade-IIB to Grade-IIA.
Following a recommendation by a high-level review committee, formed for revision of Mumbai’s heritage list, the Maharashtra government has also introduced a category for “heritage open spaces.” Earlier this week, the government launched the much-delayed move to notify the revised list by declaring the new listings for five municipal wards to start with. These wards include D ward ( Malabar Hill, Napean Sea Road, and Peddar Road), F-North (Sion,Matunga East), F-South (Parel, Lalbaug, Chinchpokli), G-South (Mahalaxmi, Worli), and G-North (Dadar, Mahim, Matunga West).
It has included Parel’s Kamgaar Maidan and Railway Ground, Worli’s Jamboree Maidan and the Lal Bahadur Shastri Garden, Matunga’s Vaidya garden and Dadkar gardens, Dadar’s Sane Guruji Park and Wadia Park, as heritage open spaces. They have been accorded Grade-IIA status. Open space activists have welcomed the move, hoping it would help maintain the sanctity of these vital lungs.
Meanwhile, the state government has opened up avenues for redevelopment of quarters and sanatorium at Worli’s Haji Ali Dargah by assigning these a lower heritage grade(Grade-III) than the sites for the tombs of Haji Ismail Yusuf and Sir Mohammed Yusuf (Grade-IIB) inside the Dargah premises.
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