While five structures including a natural pond have been graded as heritage structures, two mill-houses on the premises of the India United Mill have been declared as a heritage precinct, together becoming the first mill structures to be part of Mumbai’s heritage list. Through a resolution last week, the state government gave sanction to including these in the heritage listing.
So now, India United Mills Numbers 2 and 3 are a heritage precinct. Three separate ring-and-spinning structures, a semi-automatic loom, the 40-metre chimney and a natural pond are the other listed structures inside the National Textile Corporation’s India United Mill at Lalbaug, the largest government mill in Mumbai.
Chief Engineer (Development Plan) Ashok Shintre said: “We will take required action of including the structures in the heritage list soon.”
The heritage status is important as it will prevent these structures from demolition in future and force mill-owners to protect them even when the mills are redeveloped.
The move comes four months after the Bombay High Court directed the state government to decide on 85 structures in various mills shortlisted for addition to the heritage list. However, with only seven structures making it to the government resolution while 85 mill structures had been recommended, conservationists fear these could be the last structures within the historical mills to be protected.
Historian Sharda Dwivedi, also a member of the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee, said: “There were a total of 85 structures recommended, including India United Mills Number 1. Number 2 and 3 were to house the textile museum. It looks like the state government wants us to compromise, but we at least hope that the museum becomes a reality. Mills are an intrinsic part of the city’s history and it’s a shame if we cannot preserve them.”
Conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah echoed those sentiments. “I hope the government is serious and takes the right steps to restore them. These mills are the only surviving sentinels to tell our future generation of what Mumbai originally was,’’ she said.
* India United Mills precinct: Over 50 years old, it represents a distinctive group of structures integral to the textile industry and the ethos of the old time, says the resolution.
*n Three ring and spinning structures: All over 75 years old, these are spinning sheds with intricate iron work detailing. One has been given Grade 3, two as grade 2 B.
* Semi-automatic loom: Graded 2 B, the powerloom over 50 years, a load-bearing structure with a wooden truss and Mangalorean tiles
* Chimney: Graded 2 A, it is over 75 years old, with a stone masonry plinth and a load-bearing brick super-structure. It has wrought iron straps and wrought iron tension rods at the base.
* Water body: Grade 3, this 75-year old natural pond “lends natural beauty to the environment” around the mill structure