HEARINGS for suggestions and objections raised on the proposal to notify the Chembur Diamond Garden neighbourhood as a heritage precinct began Thursday at the BMC’s M-ward office.
The proposed precinct comprising 502 buildings has received over 160 suggestions and objections on the heritage tag that could make redevelopment unviable.
As per the directions of the Bombay High Court in a public interest litigation case filed by the residents of Chembur, the eight-member Heritage Review committee will have to submit its report on the precinct with its conclusions on the proposed grading before May 27.
“As in the Shivaji Park precinct case, the committee will conduct site visits to personally inspect the condition and style of the buildings featuring in the draft list. Apart from that, this is a different case and so we are approaching this with a clean slate,” said a committee member said.
Amit Kulkarni, a resident of the area who is also a member of the Chembur Developers’ Association said, “There is no sense in labeling the entire area as a precinct for the sake of a few structures that hold heritage and cultural value. Most of the buildings have been built between 1950-1955 and are plain reinforced concrete structures. There is no cultural or heritage value attached to them.”
He added that if the precinct is notified, redevelopment projects will become unviable. “We will be losing out on incentive Floor Space Index for redevelopment projects, making them unviable. There are some beautiful churches, temples, wells, and water bodies in the neighbourhood that deserve conservation.
These, together with individual buildings which have beautiful features, should be listed individually and separately, as we all agree they must be maintained. However, just for this handful of structures, the BMC should not put a blanket ban on redevelopment in the whole precinct,” Kulkarni said.
“Practically speaking, nearly half of the structures in the precinct are redeveloped already, or under construction, so there is no skyline to maintain. There are many senior citizens who face problems climbing the stairs and require the facilities of escalators. The economic situation of residents has improved, and now many families own cars, but there is no space in the old buildings for parking these. In redevelopment, we can address these issues effectively,” said Yashodhan Sandu, another resident
of the area.
The listing exercise for the Chembur heritage precinct was carried out between 2005-2007 by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region – Heritage Conservation Society (MMR-HCS), after which it was submitted to the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) who approved and handed over the list to the BMC for publishing in 2008.
The civic body published the list on July 31, 2012, after a gap of four years, and said a final report will be submitted to the State Government for notification after receiving suggestions/objections and holding hearings for citizens.
As per records with the Chembur Developers’ Association, 217 of 503 buildings have already been redeveloped or are under construction.
In August, 2013 the BMC issued a circular indefinitely halting all development in heritage precincts and Grade III structures in Mumbai following the MHCC’s objection to wanton redevelopment of drafted heritage structures. This was done despite a delay from the civic body in holding hearings on close to 3,000 suggestions and objections received from citizens across Mumbai.
Following an HC order, in January, 2014 a circular was issued that building proposals that had already received commencement certificates (CC) and intimation of disapprovals (IODs) were allowed to continue.