The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has the responsibility for maintenance and upkeep of all monuments and archaeological sites notified by the Government of India as a protected monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological sites and Remains Act 1958. Some of the states have also enacted similar legislation and notified monuments and archaeological sites under the Acts. It is quite imperative to protect and redeem the lesser known monuments, many of which are lying in derelict state at present all over the country. All this would be fine if each state puts in place a Heritage Act and lists in it all heritage sites that need to be protected. A broader outlook is needed for heritage preservation in India in general and Mumbai in particular. It is a herculean task to protect such heritage structures in the Metro. FSI should not come in the way to cause damage to heritage structures in Mumbai city.
Unfortunately, those who own such properties are not aware of the heritage in their possession and often consider it to be a hindrance to progress. If we follow this policy, most buildings that we would consider to be of heritage value will have to be demolished. Yet, the very age of the buildings would make it qualify for protection, as it represents an era that has gone by. Secondly, does every structure that merits protection need to necessarily have sculptures, inscriptions or unique artistic interest. We do not hold a brief for the concerned heritage in the list for demolition. The Court has ruled and it is time to make up our mind if such a structure is to be demolished.
Similarly, there is need to pass the Heritage Act with immediate effect. This should be followed up with a listing of heritage structures across the city, grading them on the basis of their importance and affording them protection of that basis. There are well-established norms for this and we do not have to re-invent the wheel. The role of citizen is manifold and they must play a pivotal role and for that public-private partnership is the need for the hour to draft plan and see that how that is implemented without causing damage to heritage buildings. The suggestions, opinions and concerns can be considered through a voice vote or through opinion polls in the media.