A year on, vacated Rajindra Kothi unused

Today, the Patiala Heritage Society has not even seen it fit to hold this year’s painting exhibition in the same building. The exhibition is being held at Banasar Art Gallery of the North Zone Cultural Centre (NZCC) in the Sheesh Mahala complex. This gallery was available last year also but the organisers did not opt for it.

Last year the Heritage Society held the painting exhibition in the Rajindra Kothi despite a very short notice, but it was done at a huge cost. The department loaded files on tractor-trailers and dumped them in a hall in the building of the State Language Department in the Sheranwala Gate area. Many of the files literally fell apart and sheaves of paper got unhooked from many bundles. Later, the files were put back in bundles on racks in the Language Department building but without any clear cut demarcation or cataloguing.

This was not all. As many as 35,000 rare books which form the library of the Archives Department which stores the record of the former princely states of the region, was also dislocated. The library was taken to be housed in the Punjabi Reference Library on the Punjabi University premises. A part of the record was allowed to be retained in the Rajindra Kothi itself. These movements dislocated the record of the department to three different places.
Despite the hurry in which the library and another hall of the Rajindra Kothi was cleared last year, the building has not been put to any use since then. The building has not hosted any painting or other exhibition during the entire year. The property, despite being transferred to Punjab Urban and Planning Department (Puda), could not be sold to anyone. It was earlier projected to be sold or given on lease to a private party and converted into a heritage hotel.

The Patiala Development Authority (PDA), which had taken the decision to transfer the property to Puda, has also been able to ensure allocation of a new home for the State Archives Department. Earlier it was announced that a new building would be constructed on modern lines for the Archives Department on the Punjabi University premises with Puda funding the project.

A few months back, even this proposal was shot down and it was announced that the Archives would be hosted in the former Deputy Commissioner’s office which was vacated following its shifting to the new Secretariat building. This has not happened till now even though only slight repairs were to be effected. While Archive Department employees are surprised at the speed in getting the old building vacated without a new one having been earmarked, city residents say hasty shifting of the records earlier has been a backward step for conservation in the state.

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