Mumbai: ‘Mumbai’ city is also known for its ancient heritage structures which are spread out in the entire area of south Mumbai. Primarily, the restoration and maintenance of these structures and sculptures is handled by the heritage department (HD) of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. For restoring and preserving these heritage monuments varied techniques are being used.
A senior civic officer from the heritage department stated, “The different techniques involve friction and rubbing, poulticing technique, water misting technique, stapling of rocks, vapour treatment. As the heritage structures are usually a combination of hard rock and soft rock. Therefore, for soft rock (limestone) friction and rubbing technique is avoided as it can degrade the rock due to chemical use in it. The poulticing technique is used, which includes putting a mask of multani mitti or newspaper pulp with ammonia for some time, wherein it sucks the dirt and paint and the rock come to its original look. Another technique also used is known as vapour treatment. The technique involves giving steam to the rock to restore the stone into its natural look. Moreover sculptures are made up of soft stones.
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“Vapour treatment is being used for the flora fountain restoration work as it comes under grade 1 heritage structure. Also under special conditions the tender was given to an expert company called Intact Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), Indian National Institute of Art And Culture Heritage,” the officer added.
The flora fountain restoration work is divided into two phases. First phase work is going on which includes restoration of fountain. While the second phase inculdes the surrounding beautification. The entire estimated project cost is Rs. 3.88 crores.
For the last two years the civic body undertook 30 heritage structures for restoration work and total cost of all is of Rs. 53.21crores. Some projects are on initially stage and some in mid while few have been completed, as per the project status report given by the BMC.
As these structures are historic and have immense market value, restoration and repairing is not always easy. Another civic officer stated, “The companies are selected only on their prior experience and work record. Which many a times delays the project work. As for restoration and repairing work usually tenders have to be floated repeatedly. Also BMC has their own schedule rates for particular work. As each piece of this structures are too costly it creates problem for the bidders also. The scheduled rates of particular work has been prepared in the year 2013 and as the market value of material have changed immensely. The scheduled rates also needed to be changed but even after four years the prices are same.”