By Simran Raikar
THE CITY’S first heritage precinct is expected to be ready by March 2020. The BMC has completed about 20 per cent of the work on its ambitious project of the heritage lane near the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) and Mumbai University in Fort.
According to BMC officials, if everything goes as planned, the pilot project, which started in April, may be completed by March 2020 and the iconic Fort area will gets its “heritage look”.
A senior civic official from the BMC’s Heritage Cell said, “The work on a few lanes has started; however, none of the locations are fully completed yet. We are working on one side of the footpath for a whole stretch near NGMA at present. About 20 per cent of the total work is complete so far and we hope to finish it by March 2020.”
The official added, “Footpath re-engineering along with the work on the bus stops and street furniture is on. The conservation has followed the original plan. It will cost the civic body Rs 6.3 crore.”
Although the redevelopment is underway, it is not without challenges. “We are facing challenges in coordinating with other organisations and people involved like the BEST (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport Undertaking),
A Ward, building dwellers and shop owners. This is an open space project, which makes it even more challenging,” said another senior civic official.
Pankaj Joshi of Urban Design Research Institute, who is the conservation architect of the project, said the idea was to make the area more pedestrian-friendly.
“We are working to achieve four main goals. First, we want to improve pedestrian engineering and make the area more accessible for people with disabilities. Second, to improve the visibility of heritage buildings lining the stretch.
Third, we will facilitate street furniture and better urban designing. Last, we will have standard signage for different shops and restaurants,” Joshi said.
He added, “We have completed the foundation of the footpaths on one side of the stretch and are installing dry trap black stone paving now. Diversion of underground services is also underway.”
The project entails restoring the Fort precinct and making a model “heritage lane” in the iconic South Mumbai area. The stretch begins at Flora Fountain and ends at Regal Cinema, including two junctions.
This project will focus on redecoration of the stretch in order to bring out its heritage character. While MG Road has the largest concentration of heritage buildings, unplanned urbanisation of the area has marred visitors’ view of the stretch.
The plan also includes beautification of the area by scientifically pruning trees growing on the stretch and creating non-hawking zones. The civic body also has plans to conduct heritage walks in future.