The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), for the first time ever, will set up an expert advisory group to approve themes for murals, paintings, artworks and graffiti on the city’s existing bridges. City officials said the panel was formed as a precautionary measure to prevent people from drawing or painting or graffiti on the bridges, which risks degrading the beauty of existing structures or hurting the feelings of citizens belonging to a particular community. The panel would be made up of five key members, including a senior official of the rank of municipal deputy commissioner (CDM) who would chair this committee along with engineers from the bridge department, the heritage cell and a member of the JJ School. of Arts. Senior officials said the frequency of the committee’s meetings will be decided after it is formed.
“Over the past 5-6 years we have seen independent artists making artwork and paintings in various locations around the city. Many of these paintings reflect the mood and history of the neighborhood. We want the decks to be covered the same way. There are so many bridges like Hancock and Carnac that have a history of over 100 years. We must carefully restore their heritage. Therefore, it is important to have the themes analyzed by experts before giving the green light to the project so that the ambiance of that area or the history of the structure is reflected in the artwork,” said a BMC official.
In accordance with current standards, if NGOs or independent artist forums express interest in creating murals or artwork on bridges, they should contact the local neighborhood office. Following this, the district office facilitates the authorization of the bridge service. Sometimes the BMC alone approaches artists and NGOs for several city beautification projects. While artists must submit an outline of the theme of their works before implementing them, there is no dedicated panel to review designs. Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) hears proposals for beautification, repairs and development
of classified heritage works but cannot take any decision regarding the installation of new works of art in the public space.
P Velrasu, Additional City Commissioner (Projects) who initiated the formation of this committee, said: “Mumbai’s bridges are a key part of the city’s infrastructure. There are many such bridges and viaducts that are over 100 years old and part of the city’s heritage. We have to be very careful about the works of art that would appear on these structures. The panel will include both artists and engineers who will share their knowledge in analyzing graffiti themes before giving the final nod to design,” said Velrasu.