Don't stop Bhabha bungalow auction, eminent citizens urge PM

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Bhabha bungalow
Mumbai, June 19: Prominent personalities from the field of arts, cinema and media Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to refrain from intervening in Wednesday's auction of late atomic scientist Homi J. Bhabha's bungalow.

In a memorandum to Modi, the signatories said the appeals of many people, including scientist C.N.R. Rao and employees of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, to intervene in the auction are misplaced.

They said late Homi J. Bhabha, elder brother of the late Jamshed J. Bhabha, was not born in the "Mehrangir" bungalow at Malabar Hill but in Kenilworth building on Peddar Road - a fact borne by a plaque on the building's wall.

"Homi Bhabha spent only a few years of his life here ("Mehrangir"), whereas Jamshed Bhabha lived here till his death in 2006.

"In his will, he (Jamshed Bhabha) bequeathed the bungalow and its contents to the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), with the wish that these should be auctioned in their entirety and the proceeds be used for the running and expansion of NCPA's activities," the signatories said.

The demand to convert "Mehrangir" into a Homi Bhabha Museum is disregarding not only Jamshed Bhabha's legacy but also ignoring the vital cultural activities of the NCPA to which he dedicated his life, the signatories said.

An important cultural centre in India, NCPA plays a significant role in promoting theatre, music, dance, cinema and literature in all Indian languages.

The signatories said Jamshed Bhabha was well aware that since NCPA does not receive any grants or subsidies from either the government or the corporate sector, it needed funds from private benefactors.

"This is the reason for his generous bequest to the NCPA," they said.

The signatories from the world of arts, cinema, culture and media include Anil Dharker, Abha Pandya, Alyque Padamsee, Anju Dodiya, Arundhathi Subramaniam, Atul Dodiya, Dalip Tahil, Darryl D'Monte, Dileep Padgaonkar, Dolly Thakore, Farrokh Chothia, Shyam Benegal, Shobhaa De, Jitish Pallat, Geeta Hinduja, Adil Jussawala, Amy Fernandes, Gerson da Cunha, Gieve Patel, Keki Daruwala, Priya Kapoor, Rahul Singh, Rashmi Poddar, Sangita Jindal, Sharon Prabhakar and Zareer Masani.

The memorandum came a day after the sprawling, Arabian Sea facing property measuring around 1,600 sq. metres was auctioned for Rs.372 crore - or a staggering Rs.281,000 per sq. foot - to an unidentified buyer.

Some employees of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre had demanded the sale be scrapped and the property should be converted into an atomic energy museum in Homi Bhabha's memory.

They moved the Bombay High Court which declined to stay the auction, but kept the matter for hearing June 23, saying that if necessary, the auction - the proceeds of which will go towards developing NCPA - could be revoked.

Even Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has written to Modi, requesting to acquire the property and convert it into an atomic museum to honour Homi Bhabha, who is considered the father of the Indian atomic programme.


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