Thursday, January 30, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Archival records to remain in Rajindra Kothi
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 29
A major part of the archival records of as many as eight erst-while princely states will continue to remain in Rajindra Kothi, which houses the State Archives, with the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) deciding not to shift the records to any other place.

Sources said PUDA, which was getting repairs conducted on Rajindra Kothi to prepare it for a painting exhibition being held in its front portion, including the hall in which the library section of the Archives was housed, has also decided not to conduct any major repair in Rajindra Kothi. Use of cement which had been used in patches on the facade of the building wherever there were cracks has also been stopped.

The building had been handed over to PUDA under a proposal to establish a heritage hotel with private partnership. PUDA had on its part taken over charge of the building and had started shifting the records from the front portion of the building to a hall in the State Languages Department. It had been decided to shift the record to the Languages Department as a temporary measure following which it was to be housed in a new building at Punjabi University which was to be built by PUDA.

Meanwhile the Patiala Heritage Society took a decision to hold a painting exhibition in the front portion of the building due to which work on shifting of the records was expedited. Currently the Archives Department staff, which has been given money to transfer the records, has stopped the transfer process. Archival records from the front portion of Rajindra Kothi has filled the hall of the Languages Department while the library section of the Archives Department consisting of 35,000 rare books has been shifted to Punjabi University’s Punjabi Reference Library.

The sources said PUDA had meanwhile also decided not to go in for any extensive repairs of Rajindra Kothi in anticipation of the Heritage Festival and has completely stopped use of cement on the vintage building which was built by using lime and mortar. The sources said labourers working at the spot had been asked only to scrape off the earlier whitewashes and give the building a fresh coat of paint. The PUDA authorities have also expressed their inability to the National Gallery of Modern Art to bar any doors and make minor changes in the interior of the building where the exhibition is to be held.

The sources said the question of shifting of the building has also become vexed because PUDA will now not be able to get possession of the entire building as it has not identified any other space in which the remaining part of the archival records can be accommodated. It is yet to arrive at any understanding with Punjabi University for establishing a new building on the varsity campus.

Meanwhile Punjabi University teacher, Prof S.M. Verma, in a statement here today made out a case for immediately taking the help of the National Archives to “straighten the mess created by hasty shifting of the archival records”. Prof Verma said the help of the National Archives should be taken to catalogue the entire record still left in Rajindra Kothi before it is eventually shifted. He said the Archives could also be involved in classifying files which had been dumped in the Languages Department. He said the records had been collected with great difficulty with former Mohindra College History Department head Prof S.N. Bannerjee playing a very important role and the rich heritage should not be allowed to be squandered.

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