Amidst reports that the iconic collection at the soon to be sold Air India building in south Mumbai will be moved to the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), voices of protests against the move have cropped up.
Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved a proposal to sell the Air India building at Nariman Point to the Shipping Ministry and now the fate of the priceless art collection at the iconic 23-storey building is now under focus.
"The Maharaja collection", as it is called, has more than 4,000 works, including paintings by legendary artists such as M F Husain, V S Gaitonde, Jatin Das, and Anjolie Ela Menon.
"Why should Air India give it's valuable artworks free even to the National Gallery of Modern Art? Why should they not be auctioned? If iconic Air India building can be sold why not paintings? Why free?" tweeted Congress leader Manish Tiwari yesterday.
While the worth of the total collection is not known, sources in the Ministry of Culture told PTI that the artworks were in dilapidated condition and needed to be restored immediately.
"The @ngma_delhi, an organisation of the Government of India shall undertake the task of conserving and maintaining the art collection and artefacts of Air India @airindiain. The @ngma_delhi has the mandate of undertaking this exercise," tweeted culture ministry today clarifying the issue.
The collection will soon be moved to Delhi, the sources confirmed.
"Why should Air India be gifting away artworks worth millions of rupees for free. Be assured, we will investigate. We will act. We are keeping a close watch," tweeted Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien.
A group of Air India unions has also opposed the move.
"Crores worth of taxpayer-owned art to be given away for free! @sureshpprabhu @jayantsinha we are watching your looting and pillaging of our national carrier. You are modern day Mahmud of Ghaznis," tweeted Air India Joint Forum Against Crony Capture.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)