Kunte report on Vasant Sagar revamp draws flak

Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte's report on Vasant Sagar Properties redevelopment project on Marine Drive has drawn flak from the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) that had recently reiterated its drafted guidelines for conserving the character of the proposed heritage precinct.

MHCC chairman V Ranganathan said, "I have not yet received the commissioner's report on the Vasant Sagar redevelopment project and Marine Drive heritage precinct, but it is now up to the Bombay High Court and the state government to decide what needs to be done next as the state government is the respondent in this case," said Ranganathan.

A few days ago, Kunte, according to Bombay High Court order, revisited the Vasant Sagar Properties redevelopment case with reiterated guidelines in consideration. The civic chief said permissions was given to the project in 2011 by his predecessor Subodh Kumar while the MHCC was yet to be reconstituted and it could not be withdrawn with retrospective effect.

This is the third time in the history of the corporation — since the MHCC was first constituted in 1996 — that a municipal commissioner has gone against the heritage committee's decision. "Kunte's report comes as blow to heritage conservation but the fight to save it will continue. This will have to involve more discussion among stakeholders. The report is worrisome for the fate of Mumbai's culture. Culture — especially architectural culture — is necessary to help the city thrive. This is erasing a layer of history from Mumbai," said a member of the heritage committee.

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