Mumbai: The residents of Khotachiwadi in Girgaum collected 114 signatures from the community, and submitted a grievance letter to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Monday afternoon against the redevelopment of an old bungalow in the 200-year-old heritage hamlet. For the past month, these residents have been fighting to preserve their precinct, after a bungalow opted for redevelopment and owners began to tear it down.
Andre Baptista, a resident of the heritage village informed, “The grievance letter has been drafted in Marathi and English and the signature of residents are attached. The letter has been submitted to the ward office [D-ward] on Monday afternoon.”
The letter addresses four points of concern over the demolition of the bungalow, over its impact on the structural stability of the neighbouring bungalows and buildings, some of which are over 150-years-old, and the impact on the unique cultural identity of the neighbourhood, referring to the ‘tradition of mutual exclusivity of the community… primarily comprising Marathi and Christian families’, and the impact such redevelopment will have on the tourism of the city, as Khotachiwadi is a popular tourism site among locals and national and international travellers, and BMC has plans to restore the heritage precinct.
The letter reads, “The residents of the heritage precinct of Khotachiwadi, Girgaon write to you with a list of grievances surrounding the recent destructive activity of bungalow no. 28, the erstwhile Fernandes House. Despite being listed as a heritage precinct that was based on a recommendation of the Heritage Committee of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, we, the generations-old residents of Khotachiwadi are appalled to witness the rampant destruction of our city’s culture and heritage which is in direct violation of the legislative laws for heritage precincts.
On April 27, a local from the area complained to BMC regarding unauthorised demolition of a bungalow in the precinct. BMC officers inspected the premises on the same day. On April 28, the civic body issued a stop work notice under section 354A of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act 1888, to this ground, plus one-storey bungalow, No. 28, known as Fernandez House for demolishing the rear side of the structure, without acquiring permission from the BMC as required under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966.
Following this, the BMC on May 6, intimated the VP Road police station via a letter but residents have been awaiting the filing of an FIR.
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