CM's nudge clears decks for Bal Bhavan's redevelopment

Sunday, 6 July 2014 - 7:25am IST | Agency: DNA
Chavan told MHCC officials that Bal Bhavan did not fall in the proposed gymkhana sub-precinct, so it should be permitted to be raised up to 25 metres

The two-storeyed Bal Bhavan at Marine Drive is finally ready to stand tall at a height of 24 metres with the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) giving the green signal after chief minister Prithviraj Chavan intervened in the matter.

At a recent meeting with Chavan, the MHCC agreed to permit the state government to raise the height of the building to 24 metres as opposed to the earlier proposal of 14 metres.

Speaking to dna on Sunday, V Rangnathan, chairman of the heritage committee, said, "We told the state government that the proposed heritage guidelines are lying with them at present. They should be approved with the modification that construction will be allowed at Bal Bhavan upto 24 metres. Once the modified guidelines are approved, we will sanction the project."

The MHCC had earlier refused to raise the height of the building stating that it fell in the proposed 'sub-gymkhana precinct'. It had asked the state government to reduce the height of the proposed development to two storeys (14 metres). The state government wanted to build a seven-storey building (35.10 metres) with a host of facilities for children's activities.

However, during the meeting at Sahyadri Guest house, Chavan told MHCC officials that Bal Bhavan did not fall in the proposed gymkhana sub-precinct, so it should be permitted to be raised up to at least the height of the adjoining Savitribhai Phule Girls hotels (24 metres). "As per Chavan's directives, the heritage committee agreed to raise the height of Bal Bhavan. We will soon submit the revised proposal plan," said a senior government official.

Tailor-made for kids
Bipin Sankhe, the state's chief architect, told dna that the government plans to set up a host of facilities for children including a museum and auditorium. "We wanted to construct a big 500-capacity theatre and two small 180-capacity theatres. Now we have to manage within given space," said Sankhe.

The heritage committee has also asked the government to ensure that the building is spacious and precautions should be taken since the proposed project is for children. "There should not be any problems while manoeuvering the vehicles in parking area. The elevator should have a machine room and the proposed badminton court should be examined by the architect properly," said a heritage committee member.


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