Shivajinagar, 6th January 2024: In a surprising announcement, the new Chief Secretary of Maharashtra, Nitin Kareer, declared the imminent demolition of the old building of Balgandharva Rangmandir and unveiled plans for the construction of a new auditorium at the iconic cultural centre. The redevelopment proposal, which had been stalled for the last one and a half years, seems to be gaining momentum with the Chief Secretary’s announcement.
Balgandharva Rangmandir holds a significant place in Pune’s cultural landscape, serving as a cultural hub for artists from across the state for over 55 years. As the old structure aged, a committee of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) officials, theatre, and film experts was appointed to seek proposals from architects for the construction of a new theatre.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar had suggested important changes in the proposal, including an inspection of Jio Mall in BKC, Mumbai, for reference. However, concerns and opposition from artists, as well as questions about the possibility of a mall replacing the auditorium, led to the shelving of the redevelopment proposal in May 2022.
Chief Secretary Kareer, in his first public program since assuming office, announced the decision to demolish the old Balgandharva Rangmandir building and construct a new one. The new building is expected to feature three theatres with capacities of 1000, 500, and 300, two art galleries, two open auditoriums, a parking lot, and other amenities. The plan also includes provisions for art, cultural heritage beautification, high-quality sound and lighting systems, and the preservation of Balgandharva’s characteristic cultural capital heritage.
While expressing joy at the prospect of a grand theatre and art gallery, Chief Secretary Kareer acknowledged the memories associated with Balgandharva Rangmandir and stated that the building’s demolition would prevent him from returning for future events.
Despite the Chief Secretary’s announcement, PMC officials claim to be unaware of the plan. There has been no discussion at the municipal level, and no work has been initiated on the redevelopment plan. This raises questions about coordination between the Maharashtra State Government and the PMC regarding the redevelopment of Balgandharva Rangmandir.
– PMC may receive the Balgandharva Rangmandir plan from the Maharashtra State Government in the next few days.
– The plan, prepared after the inspection of Jio Mall, is likely to be finalized.
– Demolition of the old building may begin after obtaining all necessary permissions.
– The construction of the new building could take at least three years after the demolition phase.