To offer a glimpse of the nerve centre of the country’s financial capital, the Maharashtra government for the first time plans to open up the landmark Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) building, standing under heavy security on Dalal Street, for tourists.
At a board meeting of the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) Monday, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who also heads the tourism department, gave his assent to entering into a memorandum of understanding with the BSE to open up the fortress-like structure as a tourist destination.
A senior MTDC official said, “We have discussed the plan with the BSE administration and they have in principle agreed to market the iconic building as a tourist destination. Now that we have the MTDC board’s approval, we will work out the modalites with them and sign an agreement.”
According to the proposal, tourists will be given access to the vast exchange floor of the building and the Networks Operation Centre. The BSE will also offer tourist services in the building, including tour guides, a souvenir store, observation galleries, auditoriums and so on. The MTDC will facilitate advertising and marketing the building as a tourist spot at its end.
“We haven’t consulted the Mumbai Police yet. We will first finalise the agreement and then refer to the proposal to the police for their comments,” said the MTDC official.
The BSE building has, however, been engulfed by a tight security cover prompted by the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai when an explosive blew up on Dalal Street in the underground car park, killing 84 people and injuring over 200. The area has been cordoned off for vehicles since then and only authorised persons are allowed inside the building on showing valid identity cards, undergoing manual frisking and passing through a metal detector. Since 2008, the Mumbai Police has also stationed a Quick Response Team at the spot.
The BSE is widely known as the first ever stock exchange in Asia that was established over 140 years ago. For the last 35 years or more, the stock exchange is headquartered in the 29-storey building standing tall at the intersection of South Mumbai’s Dalal Street and the Mumbai Samachar Marg.
The BSE headquarters comprises of the Phiroze Jeejebhoy Towers and the adjacent Rotunda building.
The stock exchange has a rich history with its first workplace in the 1850s being under the banyan trees, the current location of the Hornimon Circle, in front of Mumbai’s famed town hall. As the number of brokers multiplied, the BSE headquarters moved from place to place, from under one foliage to the other, until 1874 when they found a more permanent place, the Dalal Street.