Mumbai: Civic officer gets additional charge of Bhau Daji Lad museum

Updated: Sep 17, 2019, 08:47 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

Chief archives officer Jyotish Desai gets charge amid ambiguity over granting maintenance extension to INTACH

Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum
Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum

Even as the decision over the maintenance of Bhau Daji Lad museum under a public-private partnership is pending, the civic administration has given the additional charge of the museum to chief archives officer Jyotish Desai who was also the former chief curator of the museum. According to the civic body, the tripartite agreement with INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) and Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation ends this month and in the last meeting, members of INTACH and Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation had asked for an extension.

Senior civic officials said that a letter has been issued last month stating that Desai will handle the additional charge of the museum. He was the chief curator of the museum until 2004 after which he was transferred to the heritage department for four years. He was replaced by the INTACH who took over the restoration of the museum. Since then, apart from overseeing the restoration of the museum, Tasneem Mehta, managing trustee of INTACH, took up the initiative of starting special educational activities and courses at the museum.

Municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi said, "There has been no decision on the extension (to INTACH and Bajaj foundation) since the final decision will be taken by the general body." He added that there is no decision on Desai's role in the maintenance of the museum. Desai too said that he was yet to receive any specific directions from the senior administration.

Another senior civic official said that additional municipal commissioner Ashwini Joshi recently issued directions to the deputy municipal commissioner in charge to draft a proposal about the expiring agreement. "We are preparing the report and will submit it to the commissioner later this month. The final decision, however, will be taken by the general body and the mayor," said the official. Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar said, "We are yet to discuss the issue. We will soon take a decision on whether an extension will be given to INTACH."

Dispute over expiry date

Last year, there was a discrepancy about the date of the agreement's expiry between INTACH and civic officials. During the tenure of former civic chief Ajoy Mehta, the civic body was set to take over the reins of the museum and had even prepared a draft of committee members who will take over the administrative duties.

While BMC claimed that restoration of the museum was completed in 2005, Mehta had then said that work was completed in 2012 after the heritage committee approved their proposal to restore the Bandmasters Cottage and adjacent structures. She remained unavailable for comment.

Also Read: BMC, INTACH tug at museum's strings to have control over it 

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