Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday 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 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.

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.

The court further directed the BMC review committee to submit its report on the final list of heritage precincts by February 28.

The civic body had formed an expert committee and invited objections and suggestions post its July 31, 2012 list of proposed heritage precincts. BMC counsel S U Kamdar on Monday informed the court that the committee has heard all the objections and conducted site visits. “A final report would be ready and submitted by this month end,” he said.

The court’s ruling would come as relief to 187 buildings in Shivaji Park, 941 buildings in Matunga and 500 buildings in Chembur.

Senior counsel Fredun DeVitre, appearing for MHCC, told the court that the heritage committee had not recommended for all the buildings to be declared as heritage structure.

“In Shivaji Park, only those buildings facing the ground and some buildings in the second row were recommended to be declared as Grade I structures. We are, however, ready to reconsider the recommendation. The recommendation was made in 2008. The new committee now feels that some buildings cannot be termed as heritage structures,” he said.

While Shivaji Park is proposed to be declared as Grade I heritage precinct, Matunga area is recommended to be declared as Grade II-A.

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