Dismayed by the news that the city may be about to loose yet another heritage property, some 300 people gathered in Khotachiwadi on November 28 to try to stop the demolition of one of the neighborhood’s beautiful heritage cottages and sign a petition calling for the preservation of Khotachiwadi – one of the most charming neighborhoods of Mumbai, with its small pedestrian streets, its typical Portuguese bungalows, and its untouched communal and village-like atmosphere in the heart of South Bombay.
A few days ago, residents of Khotachiwadi learned that No. 35, a 150-year-old Portuguese-style bungalow acquired four years ago by Deekay builders, was about to be taken down to be replaced by a 18-story concrete tower building.
The movement that was started by the Khotachiwadi Welfare and Heritage Trust seems to be gathering steam.
On 29th of November, a meeting was held in Khotachiwadi, during which BJP Member of Legislative Assembly Mangal Lodha, Shiv Sena local municipal cooperator Mrinal Gobatkar and 150 residents of the neighborhood decided that all the 26 remaining buildings are now protected and that nobody would be allowed to destroy heritage buildings. However, some of the most dilapidated chawls, which are on the verge of falling down, can be re-developed, as long as all the norms and regulations are respected.
During the last session of the legislative assembly, the case of Khotachiwadi, which was declared a grade III heritage precinct in 1995, was brought up and a case was made for the protection of all heritage buildings.
Therefore, the demolition of No. 35 is illegal and a probe will look into the construction of No. 29B as well, where a seven-story building being constructed may violate construction rules and regulations.
Yesterday, Mr. Lodha and members of the Khotachiwadi Welfare and Heritage Trust delivered a letter to the municipal commissioner calling for a heritage law to be enacted.
On Saturday December 4, 30 NGOs will meet to discuss the way forward to preserve Khotachiwadi.