UN title in sight for Oval Maidan

A project to nominate the Oval Maidan precinct as a UNESCO world heritage site finally gained momentum after receiving an approval for financial support from the MMRDA.

Written by Alison Saldanha | Published: August 26, 2012 3:02:06 am

A project to nominate the Oval Maidan precinct as a UNESCO world heritage site finally gained momentum after receiving an approval for financial support from the MMRDA.

Through the lush Oval Maidan strip at Churchgate,buildings belonging to different centuries and architectural styles are cleanly sliced into two — the Victorian Neo Gothic architecture of the 19th century,and the 20th century advent of the Art Decco.

Tentatively,the proposed precinct extends from these Bombay Gothic buildings lining one side of the maidan to the other side that stretches till Marine Drive,in between which lies the largest conglomeration of Art Decco buildings in the world after Miami.

“We have decided to fund the making of this dossier from our heritage conservation trust following discussions at our sub-committee meeting mid-August,” said Uma Adusumili,chairman of the MMR Heritage Conservation Society. This book,containing comprehensive details on the precinct,will function as a testimony for the site’s raison d’etre to gain world recognition. The MMRDA is said to have approved nearly Rs 15 lakh for producing the document.

“We had initially planned to submit the dossier in 2013. For this,it needs to be ready by at least October and since we have just received the nod from MMRDA,we have decided to submit it in time for the 2014 nomination,” said Abha Lambah,who had presented a paper on the precinct at the Chandigarh conference on behalf of the UDRI.

“If we win the title,it will revolutionise the way India looks at its heritage. Modern history has been relatively sidelined,considering our ancient heritage,” she said.

The project was conceived in 2003 at a UNESCO conference in Chandigarh where the dearth of variegated world heritage sites was made apparent. Each year,every country nominates one site for consideration under the prestigious title. In February,with support from CM Prithviraj Chavan,the Oval Maidan precinct featured on India’s tentative list.

“There is going to be some competition because Delhi has decided to nominate the entire city. All other sites have a lot of ancient and medieval history,” said Lambah.

“This is a unique precinct and it is a matter of pride and prestige for the city. The level of conservation in this area has also improved over the years. Making this a heritage precinct will act as an impetus for private owners to conserve these structures,” said Shirin Bharucha of UDRI.

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