MHCC delays proposal to build museum on city’s textile mill culture

Four years after the National Textiles Corporation handed over mills 2 and 3 of India United Mills,Byculla,to BMC,the proposed museum at the site — that would portray the century-old history of the city’s textile mill culture— has been delayed again by the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC).

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: August 29, 2013 3:01 am

Four years after the National Textiles Corporation handed over mills 2 and 3 of India United Mills,Byculla,to BMC,the proposed museum at the site — that would portray the century-old history of the city’s textile mill culture— has been delayed again by the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC).

Considering the proposal on Tuesday,the committee deferred the approval and asked for changes. Committee members felt that the remaining relics from Mumbai’s mill history,some of which have been considered for demolition,should be protected.

MHCC chairman V Ranganathan said,“We had considered the proposal at the meeting. But then it was decided that we will visit the site,as the recently formed committee has never visited the area together before. We will take a fresh view on the proposal,including what structures can or cannot be demolished.”

Another member added,“The proposal did not have any satisfactory propositions for a textile museum and lacked the components of social and architectural history of the textile mills and textile mill movement. We hence asked the corporation to recast the proposal. After our visit to the site,we will take a decision.”

On the August 1 meeting,held in the municipal commissioner’s office,it was decided that this proposal would be given priority.

In 2010,India United Mills 2 and 3 were accorded heritage status among the 80-odd mill lands in Mumbai. Three ring and spinning structures,a chimney,a semi-automatic loom and a pond – in the mill’s premises- were also individually given heritage status of varying grades.

The proposal,tabled on Tuesday,included plans to house a “state-of- the-art” museum,auditoria,travelling exhibitions that celebrate the city’s industrial legacy,textile and craft traditions,and culture. Pictorial representations of the life of mill workers were also suggested.

Two fashion galleries that will display traditional textiles and contemporary Bollywood costumes and Indian fashionwear were also included in the proposal. Besides,an amphitheatre to stage performances of traditional Girangaon (mill culture) dance,music,literature and poetry,in addition to a fine-dining franchise and a food court serving Bombay street food and local Maharashtrian,Goan,Udipi and Iranian food were suggested.

In the current development plan,the mill land has been marked as a “Recreation Ground (RG).” Since it was decided to develop the land as an RG-cum-mill museum,a proposal has been submitted to the state government to change this reservation to ‘RG-cum-Textile Museum’.

This involves three aspects —structural restoration of some of the existing old structures and their adaptive re-use,demolition of some of the other non-significant structures in the premises and landscaping of the open areas. A decision is yet to be taken on this proposal.

In 2011,the heritage committee had not given approval for the RG-cum-textile mill museum on the ground that none of the structures on the premises should be touched.

According to the proposal,the museum plans have been prepared by taking into account an area of about 44,000 sq m which comprises heritage structures. It excludes the disputed 17,000 sq m of land which the NTC has demanded the BMC return.

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