Playback singer Lata Mangeshkar on Saturday moved the Bombay High Court challenging a Maharashtra Government’s order which declared a film studio located on her plot in Kolhapur as a heritage structure.
Her petition came up for hearing before a Bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka, which directed the Government to file a reply and also issued a notice to Kolhapur Municipal Corporation (KMC), returnable on February 7.
The 82-year-old singer, accusing authorities of trying to grab the plot, contended that neither the Government nor KMC had given a notice to her before declaring Jayprabha Studio as a heritage structure, as required under Section 37(1) of Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MRTP) Act.
Ms. Mangeshkar purchased the 13-acre plot in 1959 from renowned Marathi filmmaker Bhalji Pendharkar. Pendharkar had bought this land from the erstwhile princely state of Kolhapur with promise to build a film studio on it.
Accordingly, Jayprabha Studio was built and it stands till today. However, it has now become a grade III heritage structure although the studio is not used at all. A large chunk of this real estate has been given to a developer to build houses.
The singer contended that because the studio had got a heritage tag, it could not be renovated, rebuilt or even repaired. Hence, she challenged the Government’s order of December 29, 2012, declaring it a heritage structure.
She argued that the State ought to have considered that till date no Heritage Conservation Committee had been constituted for the Kolhapur city either by the Municipal Corporation or Deputy Town Planning Director, Pune, while preparing the modification in respect of the conservation of heritage buildings/precinct/natural features.
As per the regulations for the conservation of the heritage buildings/precinct/natural features, the committee ought to have been constituted with effect from the date of publication of the proposed modification.
In this case, till date, no such panel has been formed and the State had erred in approving the modification submitted by the Deputy Town Planning Director, her lawyers N.V. Bandiwadekar and Abhijit Adgule argued.
The legendary singer alleged that the respondents (Government and civic officials) were trying to harass her. “They want to grab the property owned by me”.
Ms. Mangeshkar’s lawyers argued that the respondents erred while including the property in Grade III of the heritage building list, acted thus only to harass her.
According to the petition, the Kolhapur civic body has taken contradictory stand on the issue. On one hand, the corporation said the building was old, had become dangerous and hence should be demolished. On the other hand, it said the studio was a heritage structure and could not be razed.
The corporation also tried to acquire the said property by putting reservation in respect of “garden and cultural centre”, but the State Government stopped this move, the lawyers submitted.