The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) has articulated its stand in the debacle over the exclusion of nearly 70 per cent of notified and proposed heritage structures, sites and precincts as well as the severe dilution of heritage regulations in the BMC’s draft Development Plan (DP) 2014-34.
The heritage panel has on Wednesday sent its official letter to Chief Secretary Swadhin Kshatriya who heads the review panel that was set up by Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis following the furore over the flawed draft DP in the state legislative assembly earlier this month.
The letter which voices the MHCC”s strong objections “to the disregard of the recommendations” given by them during the preparatory stages of the DP, has also been sent to BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte and the chief engineer of the DP department. The letter details seven kinds of major omissions and dilutions that goes against the interest of heritage conservation in Mumbai.
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The Indian Express has been highlighting how 1,000 of the 1,500 heritage landmarks were excluded from the draft DP including some of the country’s finest examples of Neoclassical, Art Deco, Victorian Neo-Gothic and Indo-Saracenic architecture, agiaries , grade 1 open spaces among many others.
Norms were also diluted greatly to allow unfettered redevelopment of grade III structures and precincts while not including any of the suggestions made by the MHCC for incentivising private owners for the preservation of such structures.
The letter raises all these issues and more while being emphatic about the fact that the draft DP has disregarded the recommendations made by four subsequent heritage panels headed by former chief secretaries M Sukthankar, Sharad Upasani, Dinesh Afzalpurkar and V Ranganathan respectively.
“We have sent the letter in the hope that it will impact the final DP or be part of the new draft DP if the present one is scrapped in keeping with demands to that effect,” said Ranganathan who is the chairman of the present MHCC.
In addition to the omitted landmarks, the panel has said that the draft DP has also left out its guidelines for display of hoardings in heritage structures and sites and a proposal to grant Transfer of Development Right certificate to owners of heritage structures so that they can monetise it to fund conservation efforts.
To further this cause, the letter makes a case for setting up a heritage conservation fund under the BMC commissioner. The panel has also protested against the removal of redevelopment and repair permissions for grade I, grade III structures and precincts from the purview of the heritage panel.
Ranganathan added that the MHCC had earlier raised all above issues with the state Urban Development (UD) department which was expected to issue separate notifications to enforce each of the recommendation. “The UD department told us that the BMC, which is in the process of revising the DP, will incorporate all our recommendations in it. However that has not happened which is why we have filed our objections,” he said.