Pune: Several artistes and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), have come together to protest against the proposed demolition and renovation of the Balgandharva Rangmandir auditorium by the PMC. The PMC has a proposal to renovate the auditorium and turn it into a expanded commercial space with eateries and other facilities.
In the drafted letter, Yogesh Supekar, Maya Dharmadhikari, Anil Gondkar and others have said that the auditorium is an issue of pride for the city and the artistes and that this proposal should not be carried forward. The letter, which is on the letterhead of the NCP, mentions that the auditorium was built on June 26, 1968 and will complete 50 years this year. It was inaugurated by the then CM Yashwantrao Chavan. The letter also mentions that the PL Deshpande, one of the most beloved Marathi authors, had personally supervised the construction of the building.
“This building was conceived by legendary Marathi personalities. It has a free and open space and was designed to create a vibrant and positive ambience,” said NCP leader and leader of opposition Chetan Tupe.
Tupe said that instead of conserving the building, the PMC wants to destroy it. “The building is completing 50 years of existence. It has seen legendary actors, singers and personalities perform, orate and enthrall the audience. This building is the cultural heritage of Puneites. Instead of conserving this as an heritage, the PMC is attempting to completely raze it.’’
The NCP, Tupe said, will protest strongly if the PMC goes ahead with its plans. “Even earlier, there were attempts to make the auditorium into a three storey structure. Then there was a different party in power, but one can see that the thinking is the same. They want to make space for fast food joints there,” He said, adding, “We will not let this happen and will protest. We will rather raise a demand to declare it a heritage building.”
Veteran actor Ashok Saraf said that it is a wrong decision to destroy the current building of the auditorium. “For an artiste, the ambience provided a different kind of thrill when performing on that legendary stage. The importance of that building is huge. Why should it be destroyed in such a way? They should carry out repairs if they want, but I am against the complete demolition of the building,” he said.