The garishly oil-painted fountains and broken gargoyles at the historic and iconic Crawford Market will get cleared of their grime and filth to show their lost sheen. The debate continues on what part of the 140-year-old market should be considered a heritage structure but partial restoration of the iconic clock tower building in the vegetable market along with two fountains has already received the nod.
However,as per the proposed plan,the market may remain deprived of air-conditioning.
The plan is expected to be approved on Thursday in a meeting of the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee. Chairman Dinesh Afzalpurkar said that the committee had hardly any doubts on the plan. The architect can begin the restoration process of the clock tower and fountains, he said. We dont think air-conditioning of the market will be appropriate. A decision on that will be taken after the meeting.
The committee has sought the help of the Urban Development Department to clear its doubts on the status of the Grade I heritage structure. There is a school of thought that not the entire market but only the clock tower and the fountains bear the heritage tag. The state government is yet to come up with a clarification.
Conservationist architect of the project Abha Narain Lambah said she is yet to receive the approval. As per her plan,the vegetable market will undergo extensive repairs first. There is lot of leakage and the roof tiles have given way at a number of places, she said.
Major work will also be carried in bringing back the lost sheen of the two fountains and restoring the old Gothic and Norman architectural details. One of the fountains,inside the building,had been designed by Gilbert Scott and donated by Cowasjee Jehangir; it is oil-painted in pink and green. The other,in the courtyard,depicts the river goddesses and animals including a camel,a sea-horse and a crocodile; it is painted in multi colours and its top is partly broken.
The original design also had gargoyles holding gas lamps for illumination and wrought iron gates,many of which are missing. The restoration of the vegetable market with the clock tower and fountains and the service upgradation is pegged at Rs 25 crore.
Lambah had also proposed air-conditioning of the market in lieu of the re-development of the structure using an FSI of 4. In case a new high rise is to come up in the open courtyard then the vegetable market building will be completely packed creating problems for ventilation. We had therefore suggested air-conditioning as an option but if the courtyard is allowed then there is no need for any artificial ventilation, she said.