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Mumbai: 2 months on, BMC yet to respond to Bhau Daji Lad Museum irector

While the museum management replied to BMC’s show-cause notice within a month with a list of counter-arguments, the civic body has taken over two months to respond

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum management have not been missing a fighting chance. Though this time, the civic body is a little tardy. While the civic body had issued a show-cause notice against the museum in March, alleging irregularities under director Tasneem Mehta, the latter sent a detailed rebuttal the next month, but hasn’t heard back on it yet.

The BMC had also alleged that the artefacts at Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum were not certified. File pic
The BMC had also alleged that the artefacts at Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum were not certified. File pic

The BMC’s blames ranged from no certification of artefacts, no submission of accounts or day-to-day revenue accounts to no audit and no creation of any inventory. The museum replied, saying the artefacts have been verified and that the BMC had never asked them to conduct an internal audit, among other things.

Audit
Tasneem Mehta, in a letter, dated April 20, addressed to deputy municipal commissioner Sudhir Naik, said, “The municipal corporation has not approached the trust to undertake an internal audit. If the MCGM requires an internal audit, the board of trustees will be requested to appoint an internal auditor at the next meeting.” However, the museum has a statutory auditor, who was appointed in 2005 for financial audits.

The letter then stated that the museum had not only done a physical verification of the collection recently and submitted an original signed copy to a senior audit officer on April 13 this year, but had also undertaken the same practice several times in the past. “It is not mandatory for an external expert committee to physically verify the collection of a museum,” the letter read.

However, the letter keeps away from talking about if several BMC letters seeking audit records were sent to Mehta and if yes, why the records were not submitted to the BMC. When contacted, Tasneem Mehta refused to comment.

Appointment
While the BMC had alleged that appointments in the museum are done without following due procedure, the museum replied saying that appointments were done through advertisements in newspapers and websites. According to its guidelines on human resource management, appointments of grade 2 and below can be done by the trustees.

Fundraisers
In March last year, MNS and Sena protesters threatened to vandalise the museum on the day a fund-raising fashion show, which they called anti-Indian culture and pro-elite, was to be held. It was shifted to a five-star hotel, causing the museum embarrassment and financial loss. So, the letter also has a list of donations received by the museum, the number of events held at the museum and earnings through them enclosed. It also states that Mehta is authorised to organise fund-raisers.

BMC speak
When asked why the BMC has not responded yet, Naik said, “We are in the process of preparing a detailed, point-wise rebuttal. It will be sent to the management soon.” About agreement termination, he said any decision will be taken only after appropriate legal advice.

About the museum
The iconic museum is owned by the BMC and maintained by INTACH and Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation as per a tri-partite agreement signed in 2003.The Mayor is the chairperson of the managing committee, but the day-to-day affairs of the museum are looked after by the committee.

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