Research Projects

FORT MANAGEMENT PLAN - LISTING AND GRADING OF HERITAGE BUILDINGS

The HERITAGE REGULATIONS OF GREATER MUMBAI was a pioneering effort by the Maharashtra government to protect the historical fabric of our city. Being the first of the states to recognize the need for the preservation of our built heritage it was instrumental in setting up a framework for the identification and the protection of important precincts and buildings that form an important part of our cultural identity. This took the form of an important Maharashtra Government Notification No DCR/ 1090 / 3197 / RDP/UD dated 21st April 1995; and published in a booklet called “Heritage Regulations of Greater Bombay”. This regulation came into force on 1st June 1995.

In the regulations besides the main grading criteria and the framework to the types of development allowable on different sites one also finds a list of buildings and precincts that are part of the Heritage list of the city. These include 574 buildings, 14 milestones and 18 precincts.

The list also provides criteria by which a buildings’ value to the city is established. These are called the Value Classification criteria.

Since its inception in April 1995, the heritage list has provided an important and influential framework for the preservation of the historical fabric of the city. It has been instrumental in being able to protect many monuments and precincts from rampant developmental pressures. However, there have also been many lacunae that have been observed in the existing list.

Given below are some of the major problems observed.

1. It was felt that the list was too South Mumbai Centric. Many important buildings and precincts in the extended suburbs of the city, though important were neglected and were today undergoing tremendous transformations. A need was felt to include these as well under the protection that the Guidelines provide.
2. Many buildings had undergone tremendous transformations since the inception of the list in spite of the Heritage Regulations. The value of them on the list was coming directly under question as they were often very dilapidated, or had been modified so greatly that the original reason why it was placed on the list had all but disappeared. There was a need felt to revisit these sites and re-evaluate each individually.
3. The earlier listing done in 1995 had overlooked many important buildings. These buildings had to be added and given protection as soon as possible.
4. There were many errors noticed in the list. There were ambiguities in addresses, spelling errors, and many such lacunae that needed to be corrected, as this led to buildings being difficult to identify with ease.
5. It was also felt that the description of the “special features” of the buildings was also merely an outline and did not give a complete indication to the specific features that need to be preserved or considered when modifying the building. This was leading to many of these being ignored while re-developing the sites.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Heritage Conservation Society thus commissioned a project with a two-fold mandate.

A. A Re-evaluation of the existing list:

a. To record the changes that have occurred since the 1995 listing in the buildings and precincts that had been listed. This would indicate the effectivity of the regulations in controlling the development of the sites.
b. To re-evaluate the sites on the basis of the changes that are observed; and on the basis of the value of the project as per the Heritage guidelines. Thus new Grading suggestions along with the elaboration of the Special Features and the Value Classification will be made.
c. To remove inconsistencies and errors that may exist in the existing list. These would include spelling errors, mistakes in addresses, the duplication of buildings, etc.

These were classified as Tasks 1 and 2 with Task 1 being the revaluation of the sites numbered 1 to 316, along with the Fort Precinct (numbered as 633).

B. Suggestions for the addition of new sites to the listing in the following areas
a. The Island City of Mumbai
b. The Western suburbs
c. The Eastern suburbs

The Urban design Research Institute was assigned Task 1 of the above outlined project.