MUMBAI: Morena House, the Carmichael Road property bought by steel tycoon Sajjan Jindal six years ago and now believed to be worth Rs 300 crore, is now caught in a heritage-versus-redevelopment row.
The Jindals received permission from the BMC to tear down the 1930s art deco bungalow. Plans are afoot to build a tower on the plot, and the BMC building proposal department has given preliminary permission for a 24 metre, seven-storey structure. Permission to go higher can be granted only by the municipal commissioner.
The bungalow was on the verge of being pulled down when some locals approached the Bombay high court last month stating that the property is a listed heritage structure and falls in the M L Dahanukar Marg heritage precinct.
The Jindals denied the heritage status claim, but deferred demolition till the case was settled.
A BMC official said the house was not a listed heritage structure. The matter is expected to come up in court on November 14.
Morena House, owned by Windsor Residency, a Jindal company, stands behind Jindal Mansion, the company HQ, and opposite the municipal commissioner's residence. It once housed the Belgium consulate. Windsor said Mhada had issued an NOC for redevelopment with 3 FSI.
In 2008, the Jindals bought the ground-plus-one bungalow with a carpet area of 16,000 sq ft on a half-acre plot for around Rs 130 crore. In 2011, the family decided to sell it, and Jindal was believed to have arrived at a Rs 320 crore deal with Ajay Mittal of Arshiya International.
The deal fell through after a few months as Mittal is believed to have had second thoughts about the price. The plot also fell under the Coastal Regulation Zone II norms, which did not allow higher FSI.
The Jindals decided to redevelop the property themselves. Last month, the Carmichael Road Citizens' Committee filed a PIL against redevelopment.
It said that a study carried out for the Heritage Committee by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Heritage Conservation Society included Morena House in the heritage list. The PIL said the owners of Morena House were denied permission for redevelopment by the Heritage Committee because the building was categorized Grade II B. It said the BMC go-ahed for redevelopment was illegal.
The Jindals denied the heritage claim. Only three buildings, including the municipal commissioner's bungalow, in the heritage precinct are listed.
"Its [Morena House] status is thus, non-heritage building situated within a heritage precinct," the affidavit in response to the PIL said.
The Jindals said the conservation committee recommendation of Grade II B status was not accepted by the Heritage Committee. They said the razing permission "has been lawfully obtained".