Lost amid the highrises are charming old bungalows in a 200-year-old hamlet in the Girgaum heritage precinct of Khotachiwadi that could see a brighter future soon.
After getting an in-principle approval from the civic chief, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is set to begin the heritage revival of the quaint cluster of colonial-style cottages. The proposal for the project will be tabled before the heritage committee soon for the final nod.
According to the preliminary plan of the BMC, drafted by a consultant, the first phase will focus on restoring the entrance to the heritage precinct, restoring the original streetscape, marking historic landmarks and information plaques, designing special signage, street furniture such as street lighting and finally reviving the traditional elements through integration with pathways, drainage and waste management.
“The plan is to have proper colour-coded signages that will help identify the uniqueness of the area. The project will be funded through the local corporator’s fund,” said Vishwas Mote, the assistant municipal commissioner of the D ward (Girgaum)”.
Fashion designer James Ferreira, one of the well-known residents of Khotachiwadi, is hopeful. “The heritage revival project would not just mean reviving the heritage precinct, but without losing its traditional essence. We wanted to ensure that our house gullies and streets are clean. Civic officials have promised us that this is the start towards a better future. We organised a clean-up drive on Gudi Padwa to mark the beginning of the project.”
Tapan Deshpande, a conservation architect who has designed the plans for Khotachiwadi’s revival, said: “The project is totally based on a heritage enhancement strategy and creating a new model with participatory action involving Khotachiwadi Welfare and Heritage Trust in collaboration with the BMC’s D ward office”.
Mote said the project is being developed with maximum participation of residents. “The heritage revival project began the day residents showed concern about the lack of infrastructure and their willingness to start the project.” According to the residents, the area is difficult to locate for visitors and tourists as it is not being given the right kind of treatment it deserves.
The area, that originally had around 65 colonial-style old houses, now has 25 of them. The drainage system needs to be restored. “When a project is undertaken, the paver blocks will have to be removed from the streets and also the old mosaic art flooring, which forms the entrance of several houses in the area. Plans will now be officially discussed with the Khotachiwadi trust to get the residents on board. We are seeking more participation from residents in the project as directed by the BMC commissioner himself,” Mote said.
He added, “The municipal commissioner last week gave an in-principle nod for this revival project. Once the detailed plan is ready, it will be tabled before the heritage committee.”