The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has canned its plan to expand the city’s oldest museum saying Mumbai needed more open spaces.
In 2014, the BMC announced a new wing will be added to the northern flank of the Bhau Daji Lad museum. The project was to be completed with third-party funding and assistance from the BMC. Raj Thackeray’s MNS, however, attacked the plans alleging the expansion would usurp a huge plot of land next to the museum for parking and a landscaped stretch.
In a trusts’ meeting on Thursday, the civic body cancelled the plan, instead suggesting the museum come with an extension plan in the Kalachowkie area.
“The museum needs an expansion and this suggestion is amicable to all. We will visit the area and come up with a plan,” said Tasneem Mehta, the museum’s director.
In the proposed Development Plan (DP) 2034 for the city, the area around the museum was marked as a garden, indicating no new construction will be allowed in the area.
The museum is owned by the BMC. In 2003, it got into a three-party agreement with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and Jamanalal Bajaj Foundation for its restoration.
“This is a victory for us. We have been against the expansion plan as it was eating into the only playground in the area,” said Sandeep Deshpande, MNS group leader.
The story so far
In 2014, the BMC held a competition to find an architect to work on the expansion. Stevel Holl Architects won
Corporators across party lines, however, questioned the BMC’s move soon, most claiming the playground nwext to the museum would be used as a parking lot
The museum maintained the playground was not going to be converted into parking space. MNS corporators then protested against the move
In 2015, the MNS held a referendum, with more than 6,000 people saying the ground should not be included in the museum’s expansion plans
MNS also mooted a proposal to dissolve the three-party agreement for the museum and suggested alternative designs for expansion