The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) building in Mumbai has been lit up with nine different colours to mark its 125th anniversary today. The Grade IIA heritage building is constructed in the Gothic style and its designs were prepared by F.W Stevens. Its construction commenced on December 9, 1884 and was completed on July 31 1893.
When one enters the main entrance of the municipal corporation building behind the Phirozeshah Mehta statue, it’s hard to tear your eyes away from the majestic stone staircase and the soaring 235-foot tower. But flanking the left side of the entrance is a humble plaque, which is arguably more impressive than the gilded dome overhead.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation can trace its roots to Sir Bartle Frere, who created a corporate body headed by a commissioner in 1865 when he was governor of Bombay. The first municipal elections were held in 1872 and the first general body meeting was held on September 4, 1873. Before moving to its current location, a triangular site opposite CSMT, the municipality shifted from a modest building on Girgaon Road to present-day Rhythm House at Kala Ghoda, and later to the Army & Navy Building across the road.
Robert Chisholm was initially appointed as the architect of the present-day building but was replaced by Victoria Terminus’ F W Stevens. The reason given was that Chisholm was sure to overshoot his projected cost. After being appointed, Stevens went to Bath in England—famous for its yellow stone buildings, and drew up his plans for the building, which he described as “early Gothic with an oriental feel”.
The corporation building, with its Venetian lions, Indo-Islamic minarets and allegorical statue of a winged lady representing ‘Urbs Prima in Indis’ (the first city of India), had a foundation-stone-laying ceremony on December 19, 1884, but no inauguration ceremony.
The civic body has planned a number of events on August 1 to mark the completion of 124 years and begin the 125th year from August 1 onwards. At an enormous cost of Rs 11 crore, the civic body has installed lighting system in the old and new building, opposite the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus in Mumbai.
The anniversary celebrations will begin at 6.30 pm with the demonstrations of newly procured equipment for the Mumbai Fire Brigade at the main gate of the BMC building.
As of 2017, the BMC legislature consists of 227 members. Shiv Sena has 84 seats, BJP-82 seats, INC-31, NCP-9, MNS-7 SP-6, AIMIM- 2 seats and Independent has six members.