Official Neglect Mars Heritage Preservation
Bismah Malik (Tribune News Service)
Srinagar: The preservation of rich cultural heritage of Kashmir has fallen prey to official apathy. It is evident from the fact that the construction of Shri Pratap Singh (SPS) Museum Complex in Srinagar is awaiting completion since 2007 with several plans remaining only on paper.
The construction of the new museum, estimated to cost Rs 30 crore, was started four years ago when then Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad laid its foundation stone at Lal Mandi, Srinagar, where the old SPS museum building is located. The SPS Complex is a five-storeyed building, which houses the museum and a library.
The new museum will incorporate advanced facilities such as central heating, landscaping and plush interior designs.
However, to date only the exterior structure of the building has been completed and the layout work is still pending, awaiting approval from the higher authorities.
The Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums, along with the Police Housing Corporation, have been entrusted with the responsibility of construction of museum but nothing concrete has been achieved so far.
Sources said persistent negligence by the authorities is the reason behind the slow pace of the construction project. Even private parties are not adhering to the rules and deadlines.
Mumbai-based design firm, Matrica, hired for the interior designing of the project, is supposed to complete the same within 18 months (four phases).
Sources said the first phase of research analysis had been completed and the tenders might be floated anytime soon.
Deputy Director, Archives, Archaeology and Museums, Peerzada Muhammad Ashraf, said: “The final design by Matrica has already been approved and handed over to the Jammu and Kashmir Police Housing Corporation, which will float tenders for the construction purposes”.
“The interior design is supposed to be the most intricate work. We might even employ artisans from outside for the assignment. We have been in touch with leading architects from the Valley and outside,” he added. The State Minister for Tourism and Culture, Nawang Ringzin Jora, has directed the department officials as well as the private firm to expedite the work and ensure the deadlines are met.
“We have clear instructions from the minister that in case the work is not completed on time, we might even look for another architectural agency. We are expecting that at least two galleries are completed and ready for use in another six months,” Ashraf said.
Despite Kashmir’s magnificent heritage and culture, the successive state governments have paid no heed to the construction of museums.
“The project cost has already crossed Rs 50 crore. The various intermediate agencies, which the state government employs, have been missing deadlines regularly. The construction of new SPS museum complex by the end of this year is unlikely,” an official said.