Pune prime’s tourist location, the 130-year-old Mahatma Phule Museum on Ghole Road housed on two acres of government land with 25,000 sq feet of construction area, may finally see an expansion and facelift with its ‘occupants’ being evicted from the government property, as per the orders issued by the district administration on April 26.
For the last 11 years, the museum had accommodated a private trust by the name of Aikya Bharati Pratisthan on its premises that had promised to start language classes for students. The trust was given ‘occupancy’ based on mere goodwill because the government land cannot be leased out. They were merely asked to give donation for the upkeep of the museum.
With the museum falling under the ambit of chairmanship of Pune Divisional Commissioner, the then Divisional Commissioner Bapusaheb Karandikar had agreed to give the Trust some space totally on goodwill. However, over the years, the museum administration wanted the Trust out of its premises so that they could expand the museum.
The museum—which before Independence was referred to as the Lord Ray Museum and presently, under the Pune Municipal Corporation, renders itself as an exceptional platform for exchange of information and knowledge— houses artefacts, textile items, handicraft items, armoury, arms and several items related to forestry, agriculture, geology as well as natural history.
After India achieved Independence, the management and ownership of this museum fell under the ambit of the state government. It was renamed as Mahatma Phule Vastu Sanghralay.The exhibits in Mahatma Phule museum comprise stone carvings, brassware items, marble statues as well as oil paintings.
Museum administrator Rajeev Vilekar said that for many years, they have been looking at expansion and even carrying out various activities that would bring about necessary cultural and educational exchange. However, there was space constraint. “The occupants—the trust— had promised to start something on national integration of languages but there was no progress on that front. Also, we had demanded for a donation for the upkeep of the museum but that too the Trust has been defaulting for the last three-and-a-half years. This is why we wanted our space back and now that, we have it, we can look for further expansion,” he said.
Resident Deputy Collector Rajendra Muthe said they had given the necessary notices for eviction for the occupancy and the final order was issued and the space evacuated on April 26. “We have followed all the due procedures of the government,’’ he said.
However, the Trust in-charge Durga Dixit, an academician, has contended this eviction order. She has said that she was not given enough time to get a stay order and even as she was ready to give the pending amount, the museum authorities were refusing to give her receipt. “I will contend the same to higher authorities,’’she added.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines