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Striking a balance between heritage conservation and urbanisation

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The Hindu         20.07.2017 

Striking a balance between heritage conservation and urbanisation

Preserving history:The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (above) runs the Capacity Development Programme in Built Heritage Studies and Conservation.File Photo  

Experts discuss how to create more space for people and vehicles in the city without ruining the special character of a place

In an era where the pace of the city’s development seems to speed up every year, and each new government policy spells out a vision for Mumbai as a ‘smart’ city of the future, what is the impact of this rapid urbanisation on the city’s heritage structures?

A panel discussion on July 18, organised jointly by the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Heritage Conservation Society and the Sir JJ College of Architecture, took up this vital discussion. The event was organised as part of the convocation ceremony of the Capacity Development Programme in Built Heritage Studies and Conservation run by the CSMVS and was moderated by Professor Mustansir Dalvi of JJ School of Architecture. The speakers on the panel were D.M. Sukthankar, former chief secretary to the government of Maharashtra and former head of the of Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC); and Shirish Patel, Chairman Emeritus of Shirish Patel and Associates.

Opening the discussion Mr. Dalvi said that the city has seen so much development that has taken place as a top down imposition on an already existing older city that has substantial built up material. He said that we should consider what is the manner of change that we want to see in a historic city like Mumbai and to what extent ideas of a newer city can be superimposed on one that is already existing.

“Do we look at Mumbai as a historic city or do we look at it only as a future city or smart city?” he asked. “If we accept that conservation is important then we also have to consider what is the built material that is important to us,” he added. Mr. Dalvi argued that while efforts have been taken to preserve colonial architecture in the city, more should also be done to preserve 20th century buildings that were built not only by the British but also by the locals.

Mr. Sukthankar recalled his time heading the MHCC when it was first set up under the 1991 Development Control Regulations. Prior to these regulations being enacted, he said there was a lot of debate on how the the city should conserve the structures and buildings that lent it a special identity. Development, he said, brings pressure on land use and old structures get reconstructed to accommodate more people and more amenities. While this process is inherent, he said it cannot be wholly allowed to obliterate cultural and natural heritage.

Mumbai, he said, does not have a lot of historical monuments like other cities but in his time with the MHCC, there were debates about preserving other structures like the chawls that were built to house workers and later came to accommodate families. These, he said, reflected the special character of the city, it’s communities and it’s way of life. At the same time, he said there had to be a balance and not every structure could be classified as a heritage one. He pointed that in many old neighbourhoods and locales in Mumbai there was always likely to be a debate every time there was a plan to widen roads or to create more space for people to park their vehicles that such plans may come at the cost of ruining the special character of that place. “How do we create a balance between these aspects?” he asked.

Mr. Patel, who was also a member of the MHCC from 1996 to 1999, pointed to the fact that regional plans for the city do not do a proper identification of heritage sites. “The first thing we have to do is map heritage sites and then it is important to see who is doing the mapping. Heritage cannot be an elite selection and when we look at the region as a whole the mapping should be done by asking everyone what they feel is important to preserve,” he said.

Use value, exchange value

With cultural artefacts, as with land, he said, there is both a use value and an exchange value. Political leadership, he said, is often more concerned with the exchange value and the people who are concerned with use value, that is the cultural value of these sites, are often not as organised and not as persistent. “We need to recognise that we need to organise better and we have to make more and more people aware of our cultural history and what needs to be preserved,” he said.

More should be done to preserve 20th century buildings

Mustansir Dalvi

Professor, JJ School of Architecture


Govt to revisit building rules, says Minister

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The Hindu        31.05.2017 

Govt to revisit building rules, says Minister

Intelligent software to be introduced to curb graft

The existing building rules, which have some flaws, will be amended as part of promoting ‘ease of doing business’, and separate building rules will be introduced for corporations, municipalities, and panchayats, said K.T. Jaleel, Minister for Local Self Government.

The Minister made the statement during the installation ceremony of the new office-bearers of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India (CREDAI), Kerala chapter, in Kochi on Sunday, said release.

Most complaints received by the Local Self Government Department pertain to alleged irregularities in the sanctioning of building permits, Mr. Jaleel said, adding that intelligent software would be introduced in all corporations to curb corruption.

The software will be introduced in Kozhikode Corporation on a pilot basis within three months.

The department will conduct a separate adalat for resolving issues facing builders at the office of the Chief Town Planner.

Meanwhile, Najeeb Zackeria took charge as CREDAI chairman and S. Krishna as secretary general.


Rainwater harvesting pits a must in buildings in Vijayawada: VMC

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The New Indian Express    19.05.2017

Rainwater harvesting pits a must in buildings in Vijayawada: VMC

By Express News Service  |   Published: 19th May 2017 05:20 AM  |  

Last Updated: 19th May 2017 05:20 AM  |   A+A-   |  

Rainwater harvesting pits a must.

VIJAYAWADA: The Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) has decided to refuse permission for new buildings in the city if the builders fail to construct rainwater harvesting pits. 

A decision in this regard was taken by the VMC officials after observing violation of the norm by many builders even after payment of the requisite fee to the municipal corporation.  

At the recent VMC council meeting, several ruling Telugu Desam corporators complained to Mayor Koneru Sreedhar that majority of the building owners in the city were ignoring construction of rainwater harvesting pits on building premises. 

The VMC council passed a resolution earlier  making inclusion of rainwater harvesting pits in the building plans in Vijayawada mandatory. The construction of rainwater water harvesting pits helps increase the groundwater table in the city.  After making it mandatory, the municipal corporation has given permissions for as many as 2,500 buildings in the city through online and earned a revenue of Rs 7 crore through collection of fee towards the construction of rainwater harvesting pits. 

According to the VMC town planning wing officials, the people can obtain building plan  approval by applying through online.  “A software will check the provision for rainwater harvesting pits in the building plan as soon as it is uploaded for permission. If there are any deviations from the town planning rules in the  building plan, it will be rejected. If the building plan meets all the parameters, including the rainwater harvesting pits, its approval is certain,” said a senior VMC official of the town planning department.

He admitted that due to busy work schedule of the town planning officials they could not strictly verify the inclusion of rainwater harvesting pits in the building plans in some areas of the city. A team of officials were deployed to conduct surprise checks across the city and initiate action against the builders who flouted the rules with regard to construction of rainwater harvesting pits, he added.

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