GTA wants Tagore bungalow – Ashamed of Mungpoo Rabindra Bhavan condition, says Tamang

The Telegraph

VIVEK CHHETRI

Rabindra Bhavan at Mungpoo

Mungpoo, May 9: Binay Tamang, an executive member of the GTA Sabha, today said he was “ashamed” of the condition of the Rabindra Bhavan at Mungpoo and sought the transfer of the bungalow from the state government’s charge to the hill autonomous body.

The comment was made by Tamang, who is in charge of the information and cultural affairs department at the GTA Sabha, while addressing a gathering at the Rabindra Jayanti celebrations at Mungpoo in Kurseong, about 35km from Darjeeling.

Rabindranath Tagore had visited the bungalow four times between 1938 and 1940 because of his love for the place and a special bond with Maitreyi Devi, daughter of his friend. She was married to the then director of cinchona plantation, Manmohan Sen.

Maitreyi Devi had also published a book Mungpoote Rabindranath containing an account of his stay in Mungpoo. Later, she established Rabindra Smriti at the director’s bungalow in 1944 to preserve the poet’s memories.

Government sources in Calcutta said this evening that the Mungpoo Rabindra Bhavan, which also houses a museum, was being looked after by the state public works department. “In fact, we carried out a renovation of the Rabindra Bhavan at Mungpoo two years ago,” said a PWD official.

But Tamang today gave a different picture, that of lack of maintenance of the bungalow.

“Gurudev is a poet not just of the Bengali community but of the entire people of this country and in fact of the world. The moment I came here early this morning, I felt somewhat ashamed as such a historic place has not been maintained well. This place should have been developed like Raj Ghat in Delhi,” Tamang said. He also expressed his displeasure over the state government’s delay in transferring the information and cultural affairs department to the GTA.

Children pay homage to Tagore at Mungpoo on Thursday on the poet’s birth anniversary.
Pictures by Suman Tamang

“Bengal’s minister Gautam Deb had earlier mooted a proposal that information ad cultural affairs departments of both the state government and the GTA should jointly organise the event (Tagore’s birth anniversary). He was to attend the programme today. But about a week back, he told us that the GTA should organise the event itself. Nevertheless, both the departments today jointly conducted the event. But we wish that the department is fully transferred to the GTA so that we can hold the birth anniversary in a grand manner next year,” said Tamang.

“Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is in charge of the state’s I&CA department, will be visiting Darjeeling soon and we are hopeful that the transfer of this department will be completed,” he added.

The hills have two information and cultural affairs departments running parallel to each other at the moment. The DGHC had set up a department which was automatically transferred to the GTA when it was formed last year. The state’s department is also operative in the hills, though it is to be transferred to the GTA according to the memorandum of agreement for the formation of the hill body.

“Once the museum is transferred to the GTA, we will draw up a project to beautify the building and give it due importance. Even Netaji Subash Chandra Bose’s museum at Giddepahar in Kurseong needs to be maintained. But even that property has not been maintained properly,” Tamang said.

Last year, the state government had announced Rs 4 crore for setting up an international research centre at Mungpoo. However, work has not yet started. North Bengal development minister Deb, while attending last year’s Rabindra Jayanti celebration at Mungpoo, had also said the district information and cultural affairs officer’s office had prepared an estimate of Rs 14 lakh to do up the bungalow.

Sources in the state’s cultural affairs department said the project entailed setting up a solar panel and repairing the museum. “We hear that the state government is planning some big project for the museum and that is why our Rs 14 lakh project has been kept on hold. Moreover, with the north Bengal development department electrifying the museum recently, there is no need for a solar panel,” said a source.

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