Rare artefacts neglected

Priceless paintings, artefacts and manuscripts of Punjab lie in open corridors and damp rooms of the Old Commissioner Building called the State Archives Museum in Patiala.

Five years after the state treasure was shifted to the dilapidated structure, officials admit the treasure to be conserved for posterity faces ruin.

It was in 2004 when the Congress Government, led by Capt Amarinder Singh, leased out Rajindra Kothi in Patiala, which housed the Archives Museum, to the Neemrana Group for building a heritage hotel. The Archives Museum was shifted to the dilapidated building that was once the Divisional Commissioner's office.

A visit to the makeshift museum speaks volumes of the poor arrangements made by the Archives Department. Far from expecting a decent display of state treasure, one is shocked to find that the artefacts and manuscripts are still kept in the gunny bags in which they were brought from Rajindra Kothi.

These gunny bags lie in open corridors of the building, exposed to the vagaries of nature.

Officials at the museum admit they have no funds to preserve the manuscripts of historical importance. “Termites have infested the premises but there are no funds for pest control,” said a staff member.

The Archives, Archaeology and Museums Department Director, D.P. Reddy, said the department was in the process of arranging racks and other articles to display the documents in a month or two. He claimed the department was taking proper care to conserve the articles and denied they had been dumped
carelessly. He said since there was no separate building being built for the museum, it would continue to be housed in the same premises.

Culture and Heritage Conservation Initiative convenor Dr M.S. Randhawa said that successive governments had failed to preserve the state's priceless heritage that documented the past A Punjabi University teacher said researchers had a tough time locating reference material from the makeshift museum

An official said on condition of anonymity that the fate of documents written in natural ink on handmade paper would be known only after they were taken out of the gunny bags

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