The PMC-run Balgandharva Rangmandir, which plays an important role in giving the city its identity as cultural capital of the state, has become a breeding ground of mosquitoes since the last three months.
The issue came to light after spectators visiting the theatre to enjoy plays started complaining about frequent mosquito bites, which marred their viewing experience. Adding to the management’s woes, civic officials passed the buck from one department to the other when approached.
It was learnt that theatre manager Bharat Kumavat wrote to the Ghole Road ward office on April 15, requesting its officials to take immediate and necessary action to curb mosquito menace. The letter read: The problem of mosquitoes has increased so much for the last few months that during interval at least 50 spectators turn up complaining about the problem and demand a refund for the ticket money.
Ghole Road Ward Officer Madhav Jagtap said, “The maintenance work of Balgandharva falls under PMC’s Bhavan Department, as it is an important site. Hence, it is there responsibility to resolve the issue.”
PMC Assistant Medical Officer Dr Vaishali Jadhav said spraying pesticides and other measures to control mosquito menace were implemented at Balgandharva regularly.
“The drainage line is open and sewage water gets logged on the premises, which are the main reasons for mosquito problem. So despite pesticides regularly, mosquitoes still come back. After observing the problem we wrote to the Sewage Department and Ghole Road ward office on April 20, requesting them to take necessary steps. But they are yet to do the needful,” Jadhav said.
“Since the theatre was recently renovated, I preferred coming to Balgandharva. But my last week’s experience was pathetic. Mosquitoes spoiled my play and I had to leave midway. After asking administration, all they did was light an anti-mosquito coil. Considering that the theatre is such an important landmark in the city, the civic body should immediately solve the problem,” Deepti Kulkarni said. She had visited the theatre last week to watch ‘Hamidabaichi Kothi’.
While most of the corporators voiced their concerns over mosquito menace at the theatre and demanded immediate action from the PMC at the recently held General Body (GB) meeting, MNS corporators protested by wearing costumes that resembled mosquitoes. “We have raised this issue several times in the past. Even at the recently held GB, the problem was discussed for almost 1 hour and 40 minutes. But it appears that PMC officials are not at all serious about the issue. They are hampering the quality of pesticides by diluting them with kerosene. Balgandharva is the main cultural hub of the city, with a rich tradition. It is shameful that audience and artists are facing problem due to the apathy of the administration,” said Maharashtra Navnirman Sena corporator Vasant More.
Santosh Kanekar, producer of well-known Marathi play ‘Nava Gadi Nava Rajya’ that was staged at Balgandharva, said, “It is irritating to perform at the Balgandharva. Backstage and make-up room is like a breeding hot spot for mosquitoes, making it almost impossible for the artists to stay beyond a few minutes at these locations. Though several producers and artists have taken precautionary measures, but nothing seems to be working. Collection of sewage water backside of the theatre is creating problems.”