BMC, INTACH tug at museum's strings to have control over it
Mumbai civic body prepares to take up the structure's administrational duties, even as confusion prevails over when the revitalisation work was completed
The fate of Bhau Daji Lad Museum hangs in balance as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and INTACH continue to debate over the date of completion of the structure's restoration work. Uncertainty continues to prevail over who would take over the administrational duties of the museum even as the civic body has prepared a draft of committee members to take up the responsibility.
While BMC claims that restoration of the museum was completed in 2005, Tasneem Mehta, managing trustee of INTACH, insists that the revitalisation work was completed in 2012 after the heritage committee approved their proposal to restore the Bandmasters Cottage and adjacent structures.
According to senior civic officials, once the BMC takes over the museum, a committee of experts would run the museum much like the Mumbai Urban Art Commission. "A draft has been prepared of the seven-member-committee, which will include historians and curators among others. While the administrational duties are yet to be finalised, a few members of the heritage committee will also be a part of this team," said a senior civic official. He also said apart from the seven members, a deputy municipal commissioner and a civil engineer would also be deputed to look after the museum's structural repair work. "Professionals will treat the Bhau Daji Lad museum as a public property. The focus will be on exchange programmes so that a variety of artifacts can be put on display," he added.
Confirming the development, Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta said, "We are looking at appointing experts, who will be able to manage the museum well." The agreement between INTACH, Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation and the BMC forged in January 2003 mentioned that the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum Trust would manage the premises on a caretaker basis for a period of 15 years from completion of restoration work. In a letter sent to Mehta in May 2018, Additional Municipal Commissioner Idzes Kundan said INTACH was required to complete the work by October 2004 and as per that calculation, the period of 15 years ends in September 2019. Referring to an award (Award of Excellence — UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Awards) that INTACH won in 2005, Kundan said it was a proof that the work was completed before June 2005.
The agreement had also mentioned that it could be extended for another 15 years by mutual consent. Kundan, however, mentioned in the letter that based on a resolution passed on April 10, 2015, the civic body decided not to do it. Responding to Kundan's letter, Mehta said in September 2018, the period of 15 years would end in 2027 as the revitalisation work was completed only in November 2012. She further said that BMC had provided the funds on March 31, 2008. "The nature of conservation work is such that one can only give an estimate of the time required to complete it. There was no delay on our part," she said. When asked about the agreement's renewal, she said, "If the BMC has issues with the way we are running the museum, then they should tell us and we will make the necessary changes."
Year BMC says the work had been completed
Year INTACH says the work was completed
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