Rivals Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have come together to oppose a proposal to declare the Shivaji Park area a heritage precinct,a move that will affect hundreds of three- and four-storey buildings built in the 1930s in this central Mumbai neighbourhood that is important to both parties.
Dominance in the quintessentially Marathi localities of Dadar,Shivaji Park and Prabhadevi has traditionally been seen as proof of political supremacy by both Senas. Both MNS chief Raj Thackerays home and the Shiv Senas party headquarters Sena Bhavan are in the iconic Shivaji Park area.
The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee is revisiting the proposal,made five years ago,to declare Shivaji Park,Azad Maidan and Cross Maidan near VT station,and the Cooperage ground at Colaba for Grade 1 listing by the Heritage Committee.
These are proposed to be notified in the list of 900 additional heritage sites and precincts.
BMC recently invited suggestions and objections on declaring Shivaji Park a heritage site,which will prohibit any construction on the ground and restrict development of structures along its periphery. Subhash Desai,leader of the Sena group in the Legislative Assembly,said his party would not allow the proposal to go through.
Residents of the area will be affected by the move,and we oppose it. If the committee identifies a few structures with heritage value to be protected,we do not have a problem. But declaring the park a heritage site would affect redevelopment of old buildings,some of which are in very poor condition, Desai said.
MNS MLA from Mahim Nitin Sardesai said his party opposed the move because the area was largely residential,and none of the structures there met heritage criteria. He argued that the heritage tag was needed for structures built in the nineteenth century,with particular characteristics.
These buildings (in Shivaji Park) are uniform in construction and have all been built in the 1930s. There are no exceptional structures which merit heritage value as they are residential structures. There are no monuments in the area either, Sardesai said.