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Centre to HC: Keen to acquire Homi Bhabha’s bungalow

The Centre informed the Bombay High Court on Monday that in the public interest it was considering whether to take over the Mehrangir bungalow of late scientist Homi Bhabha at Malabar Hill in south Mumbai for converting it into a museum.

The house was sold to a businessman during an auction recently.

An affidavit by the undersecretary of the department of atomic energy said, “The prime minister’s office (PMO) has told the legal affairs department to present the Centre’s viewpoint to the court. The PMO is exploring possibilities of adopting proceedings to acquire the property to retain his memory.”

The affidavit stated the department of atomic energy had urged the Maharashtra government to declare the house a protected monument under the Maharashtra Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act.

It added making the bungalow a museum-cum-exhibition centre would inspire the youth of India and be a tribute to Bhabha, who had given recognition to India as a nuclear power.

A division bench set June 30 as the date for further hearing.

The bungalow was auctioned by the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Mumbai last week.

An undisclosed buyer made the winning bid of Rs 372 crore, at a price of Rs 2.18 lakh a sq ft, for the 17,150-sq-ft (1,600-square-metre) property.

The employees of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), under the guidance of Prashant Worlikar, president of Atomic Energy Workers and Staff Union of BARC, and Raam Vitthal Dhuri, president of National Forum for Aided Institutions Employees (department of atomic energy), had filed a public interest suit to halt the auction and convert the property into a museum.

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