Four years after the Maharashtra government approved a proposal for construction of a Marathi language centre at Rang Bhavan in south Mumbai, the state cabinet on Wednesday withdrew the decision. Rang Bhavan, the iconic open theatre at Dhobi Talao in Mumbai, has been lying unused since 2003, when the Bombay High Court refused to exempt it from silence zone norms. In 2013, the government had proposed to convert the 2,439-sq ft state-owned plot into a facility for research and promotion of Marathi language.
A four-storied Marathi Bhasha Bhavan, with a 476-seater auditorium on the ground floor, and a smaller auditorium facility on the top floor had been proposed. The facility was also to house offices of the state’s Language Directorate, the Marathi Vikas Sanstha, the Sahitya Sanskriti Mandal, and Marathi Vishwakosh Mandal. While the plan was to complete the 80-crore revamp within three years, the project got stuck in technical hurdles, with the heritage committee refusing to drop the venue from the heritage list.
On Wednesday, the state cabinet withdrew the proposal. Shiv Sena has been pushing for an alternative venue in south Mumbai. In last week’s cabinet meeting, the party’s senior minister Diwakar Raote had sought allotment of the lease land on which the Bombay Gymkhana stands for constructing the facility. With senior officials of the view that it would be difficult to resume the land, the cabinet on Wednesday appointed a committee under Cultural Affairs Minister Vinod Tawde to find an alternative location.
The cabinet also decided to set up a sub-centre for the facility in Navi Mumbai’s Airoli.