MUMBAI: In a major development, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is going to take back 712.63 sq ft of land in Bandra west, leased to the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) for 30 years, to set up a film cultural centre and a Bal Natyagruha (children's theatre). The move comes after the NFDC failed to act on the project in the last five years.
On Wednesday, a proposal to cancel the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the NFDC and taking back the land was tabled before the BMC’s improvement committee for final approval. "This is just a formality. We are waiting for the committee to verify the details and approve the proposal. We are all set to take back the land, as the project has not moved even a bit in the last five years," said a senior BMC official.
The land had been leased to the NFDC for 30 years in 2015, at the rate of Re 1. However, since the project proved to be a non-starter until 2018, local MLA and the then minister Ashish Shelar, sent a letter to the BMC, saying that the latter should take up the project on its own.
Following this, the civic body had sent two letters to the NFDC management, demanding they embark on the project. "A meeting was also held with the NFDC office-bearers in January 2020. In February 2020, the NFDC officials wrote to us saying they would submit details of the project within seven days, but we are yet to receive any correspondence from them," said an official.
Accusing the NFDC of violating the MoU signed between them, the civic administration has proposed that the lease should be revoked and the theatre should be handed over to some other organisation that could start the project as planned. According to a BMC official, the proposed cultural centre was to have an exhibition hall, a digital cinema hall, a reading and research library and a bookshop.
The civic body has listed six breaches of the MoU terms, including the NFDC’s failure to start the film cultural centre after renovating the existing children's theatre on the land, loss of revenue due to its non-functional children's theatre and the non-inclusion of a BMC representative in the advisory committee set up by NFDC for the project.
The committee members have, for now, set aside their decision until the next improvement committee meeting and have decided to visit the theatre and the site.