Mumbai: No extension for INTACH to run BDL museum in Byculla

Updated: Mar 05, 2020, 08:02 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

BMC will appoint a new agency while also taking more control over the facility

Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Byculla
Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Byculla

After much back and forth, the civic body has now decided to not extend its agreement with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to run the Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Byculla. Instead, it is set to initiate a new hiring process to find an agency to take care of the museum."

Senior civic officials said they will begin a fresh process to rope in an agency to run the museum, while also ensuring that the civic administration has more control than it did before. The tripartite agreement between the BMC, INTACH and the Jamnalal Bajaj Museum ended in September last year. Based on the previous agreement, INTACH, as part of the trust, managed the museum independently on a caretaker basis.

After the agreement's expiry, the BMC began preparing an inventory of the artefacts stored at the museum in October. It is expected to be complete by the end of this month. While INTACH had expressed interest to continue managing the museum, the civic body is not too keen.

Civic chief Praveen Pardeshi; Tasneem Mehta, the managing trustee of INTACH, who has been running the museum. File pics
Civic chief Praveen Pardeshi; Tasneem Mehta, the managing trustee of INTACH, who has been running the museum. File pics

Civic chief Praveen Pardeshi said, "We will not be extending the previous agreement. We want a fair process and we are planning to invite a fresh tender." Pardeshi, however, had earlier stated that he was happy with INTACH's work and a senior civic official said that they will urge INTACH to apply as well.

"We need an agency that will run the museum. However, earlier, INTACH had autonomy and that has to be balanced. In the new arrangement, the agency's control over the museum will have to be restricted and the corporation's role will be extended, like in the case of the sports complexes in Andheri and Mulund," said a senior civic official.

In the past, group leaders of political parties had raised objections about the events held at the museum terming them 'elitist'. The BMC had then decided to stop releasing funds without conducting an audit of those already used.

Mayor Kishori Pednekar, too, felt the previous arrangement wouldn't work and said, "I have had a discussion with the BMC chief and we will start working on it after the state budget."

The civic body's stand, however, has not been received well by the museum staff who may lose their jobs. "We have been working amid uncertainty for the past few months, despite the agreement expiring five months ago. It is unfair to put us in this position," said a museum employee, adding that in the current market, it would take them at least three months to find another job.

The museum has four curatorial staff, five officials in the administration department, three in accounts, 15 gallery attendants and three full-time interns. Tasneem Mehta, INTACH's managing trustee, was not available for comment.

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