BMC can decide building redevelopment proposal under heritage

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The Bombay High Court ruled that proposal for redevelopment of any building falling under a proposed heritage precinct but not individually listed as Grade I and II heritage structure, need not be referred to the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) and can be decided by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

The ruling was made by a division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sanklecha while hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the August 14, 2013 circular issued by the civic body directing all its officers to refer proposals for redevelopment of any building that falls in the proposed list of heritage precincts, to the MHCC.

On July 31, 2012 the corporation had come up with a proposed list of 41 sites to be declared as heritage precincts. The sites included Shivaji Park and Matunga in Central Mumbai and suburb of Chembur. The list was issued after a recommendation from the MHCC in 2008.

The petitions filed by Arun Chitale, a resident of Shivaji Park, Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry and residents of Matunga and Chembur challenged the BMC circular stating that under Development Control Regulation (DCR) 67(2)(iii)(b) if the building does not fall under Grade I and II then the redevelopment plea need not be referred to the MHCC.

According to the petitions, the BMC can decide the proposals and special permission was required from the municipal commissioner if the building exceeded 24 meters in height.

Advocate General Darius Khambata agreed with the petitioners and said, “To say all the buildings are heritage Grade I and II is a little over ambitious. The MHCC should review its recommendation,” he said.

“After hearing the petitioners, we are of the view that the petitions are justified in making grievance against the BMC circular dated August 14, 2013. Under DCR 67(2)(iii)(b) there is no need to refer to MHCC proposals of those buildings which have not been listed as Grade I and II heritage structures,” the court said.