WITH MARINE Drive residents divided over the future redevelopment of their buildings, local BJP MLA Raj Purohit has put up banners at 100 spots in the area, asking those who favour demolition and re-building for suggestions and objections on the issue. Purohit will also meet office bearers of the housing societies here. As part of an ongoing litigation with the owner of the Vasant Sagar building, the Federation of Churchgate Residents has been actively opposing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s move to draft ‘special permissions’ for redevelopment projects in the Marine Drive heritage precinct.
The BMC’s guidelines pertain to the maximum height permissible for redeveloped buildings, which the Federation has opposed in the Supreme Court. Another faction of residents, however, is now aligning itself against a possible World Heritage Site tag from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to the precinct, as they fear this will make redeveloping their buildings more difficult.
This group recently approached Purohit, claiming that a large number of residents want redevelopment to remain a possibility, and the Federation of Churchgate Residents does not represent all views on the issue.
Purohit, who said he wanted residents’ voice to be considered, has put up boards along Marine Drive, Churchgate, Nariman Point and near the Oval Maidan. Under the title ‘Public Opinion of Marine Drive Residents’, these banners say: “All Heritage Committee Members, Please don’t force heritage tag on Marine Drive. Please consult local residents of cooperative housing societies of Marine Drive”. The board asked residents to send in their opinions.
Kanwal Shahpuri, a resident of Hari Niwas on C Road, said he and a few other residents have already sent in their responses. “I have opposed the world heritage tag and have demanded that the opinion of residents, who live in buildings that need redevelopment, be considered. No one has heard our opinions,” he said, adding that 400 residents share his concerns.
Purohit said Monday he received 23 responses. “We are sending out letters to the president and secretary of around 120 housing societies, inviting them to a meeting on Friday or Saturday. After understanding the majority’s view, I will proceed further,” he said.