The general body of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Friday struck down the tri-party agreement between Bajaj Foundation, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and the civic body, giving the corporation more power in the Bhau Daji Lad museum’s affairs. The Raj Thackeray-led MNS moved a notice of motion in the House to review the resolution, which was supported by political parties across lines.
Stating that the new agreement would not limit her role in the museum’s affairs, Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, managing trustee and honorary director of the museum, said, “I would be delighted if the BMC wants to get involved with the museum, but my first request to them would be to at least visit the museum. Most of the leaders have not even seen our work before criticising us. For the past 12 years, we have been striving to give the museum the status it holds today. Where were they when we brought the museum to such international standards?”
The move breaks a 12-year-old resolution by the three to form a trust for efficient management of the museum.
While a six-month extension has been granted to the trust, comprising BMC, INTACH and Bajaj, the civic body will frame regulations to run the trust and the museum in the same time-frame. The BMC will also decide on the formation of a new committee which will handle the museum’s affairs post the expiry of the extension.
Sandeep Deshpande, MNS Corporator, said, “Though she is the chairperson of the trust, the Mayor was never taken into confidence while deciding anything about the museum, this includes the fashion show held last month. This is a welcome decision for the future of the museum.”
The MNS has been the most vocal critic of the trust’s plans in allegedly usurping the playground adjoining the museum for further operations. Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, museum’s honorary director, has, however, maintained that the trust’s intentions were to create a play area for children in the neighbourhood.
Meanwhile, the Republican Sena approached Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Kunte and Mayor Snehal Ambekar, pointing out the erroneous absence of Chaitya Bhoomi, Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s memorial, in the draft development plan 2034 (DP). Ambekar said, “I have submitted a letter to the commissioner, highlighting this issue, and asked for immediate action.” Kunte, however, clarified, “No change has been proposed in the reservation of Chaitya Bhoomi in DP. The reservation will continue without any modification.”