Municipal Commissioner Swadheen Kshatriya on Tuesday stayed the municipal corporation’s move to hand over Byculla zoo properties to Indian National Trust for Culture and Heritage trust (INTACH) that runs the Bhau Daji Lad museum.
Earlier, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had issued an order to hand over the structures — the security cottage, gymnasium, band master cottage and conservancy staff chowkie — and asked the occupants to vacate the same within three days.
These structures, which occupy 3,500-sq-ft of zoo land, were to be handed over to the trust for repairs.
Kshatriya stayed the order following objections raised by local Corporator Mangesh Bansod. The structures are also part of the zoo redevelopment plan and hence cannot be repaired, Bansod claimed.
“We suspect that they wanted to grab zoo land. The repair was just an excuse. They have asked the BMC to give them the land for two months, but who will check if they hand over the land after two months?” asked Bansod.
“All these structures are included in the (zoo) redevelopment plan and should not be taken for repairs separately,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner R.A. Rajeev.
“The security and watchmen cottage were meant to be the storerooms of the museum. The repairs are urgently required as a lot of precious furniture of the museum was stored in these cottages. Earlier, there have been break-ins at these cottages,” said Tasneem Mehta, convenor of INTACH.
The order said the structures were to be given to the trust for two months and were to be fenced to avoid people straying on the premise.
It added that the security department should hand over the key of the cottage, gymnasium and band master cottage to the trust for temporary use.