Uncertainty continued over the fate of the bungalow of Homi Bhabha, the father of India’s Nuclear Energy programme, with the government of Maharashtra again putting the ball in the Centre’s court to declare ‘Meherangir’ as a National Monument.
In a letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has asked the Centre to declare Meherangir as a National Monument as the structure is over 100 years’ old.
“I would like to solicit your attention to the letter of the then chief minister (Prithviraj Chavan) dated June 13, 2014, wherein he has requested Union Government to declare the residence of Dr. Homi Bhabha known, Meherangir, as a National Monument.
“I would like to submit that one Ram Vitthal Dhuri (one of the union leaders who have approached the court) has now made available a survey map as an evidence to prove that the iconic bungalow had appeared in the said map surveyed in 1915 and corrected in 1932… The map has been submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO),” the letter said.
Meherangir, a sea-facing three-storey bungalow in South Mumbai, was partly owned by Bhabha’s brother who later gave it to the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) in his will.
In June last year, the bungalow was auctioned by the NCPA for Rs. 372 crore.
The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) employees, however, demanded that the property be declared as a heritage site.
In April last, the DAE had written a letter to the state government requesting it to give the property heritage status, to which the then chief minister Pritviraj Chavan had said that he would look into the matter.
Two employees, on behalf of the union, had approached the Bombay High Court after the auction.
The DAE employees, who had also approached the court seeking intervention into the matter, have expressed helplessness as the deadline given by the Bombay High Court to take a call on this matter expired last week.
Employees representing different unions of the DAE family submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister’s Office and Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for the PMO, which looks after the DAE to take speedy decision in this case.
The employees alleged that neither the state government nor the Centre was showing any interest to declare the bungalow as a heritage property despite their pleas on the pretext that the structure has completed 100 years.
“But now we have procured a copy from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) stating the structure dates back to 1915,” said Prashant Worlikar, one of the union members who have approached the court.