Panel wants more say in heritage precinct project approvals

The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) has now requested the the state government to delete two amendments included in the Development Control Regulations (DCR) for Greater Mumbai,1967.

Written by Alison Saldanha | Mumbai | Published: August 12, 2013 1:53 am

With the city losing heritage properties to redevelopment,the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) has now requested the the state government to delete two amendments included in the Development Control Regulations (DCR) for Greater Mumbai,1967.

Two notifications,one introduced in 1999 and the other in 2009,pertain to the redevelopment of properties listed as Grade III or in heritage precincts. They allow redevelopment of heritage structures under sections 33 (6),(7),(8),(9),(10) of the DCR,which includes schemes for dilapidated buildings,cessed buildings,clusters and slums,to skip the MHCC’s scrutiny.

According to the 1999 notification,in case of redevelopment of Grade III or heritage precinct structure under the said sections,if the height of projects is under 24 m,the approval of the MHCC or the municipal commissioner is not required. The notification of September 4,2009,allows planned redevelopment to exceed 24 m with special permission from the municipal commissioner.

“Members expressed concern about high rises,particularly those at precincts,which would adversely affect the skyline and the city’s heritage. It was,therefore,decided to request the government to delete the said provision,” read the minutes of the MHCC meeting held earlier this month. The committee has now written to the principal secretary of the state urban development (UD) department.

The demand has gained momentum after a Vasant Sagar Properties project in the proposed Marine Drive heritage precinct was granted approval by Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte,despite MHCC reiterating the height restriction. The redevelopment project entails a 58-m tall building.

“Redevelopment of all Grade III buildings and those from heritage precincts should come under the purview of the MHCC. The committee’s authority is limited,leading to highrises replacing these structures. If this continues,we will be left with few such properties,and the character of precincts will be lost. Whenever the municipal commissioner grants special permission for redevelopment beyond 24 m,the MHCC is consulted. Only in some cases,such as Vasant Sagar,the commissioner takes an independent decision. We want the rules to explicitly state our involvement in decision-making,” said a member of the committee.

The committee’s request has been put forward to the state many times in the last five years. Previous MHCC chairmen such as D M Sukhtankar and Sharad Upasani and current committee chief V Ranganathan have written to the UD department. The appeal has reached the CM’s office,though no decision has been taken yet.

The demand was renewed after the demolition of two buildings in Khotachiwadi in February,where two highrises have been now planned. “Because of the 1999 amendment we have no say as it is a heritage precinct and the project is being redeveloped under section 33 of the DCR,” the member said.

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