GUWAHATI, July 13 - General secretary of the city-based voluntary conservation body Heritage Conservation Society of Assam (HeCSA) Jayanta Sarma smells a conspiracy behind the developments concerning the bid to merge the Directorate of Historical and Antiquarian Studies (DHAS) with the Directorate of Museum.
Speaking to The Assam Tribune, Sarma said there is a possibility that some forces are trying to mislead the government to undertake the official move for merging the DHAS with the Directorate of Museum with a long-drawn plan for privatising both the institutions.
Sarma was behind the conservation and restoration work of the Cotton University’s over hundred-year-old chemistry building, new arts building, Cotton College principal’s bungalow and the century-old building of the Christ Church, historic North Brook Gate, among others.
Such moves are thriving in this era of neo-liberal economy and this era has made privatisation a catchphrase, he said. Sarma cited the example of the Bhau Daji Lad Museum (BDLM) of Mumbai in this respect. He said there are many such examples.
Two private parties entered into an agreement with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on running the BDLM during 2003. But the consequence of this agreement was such that the BMC had to adopt a resolution in April 2015 announcing its disassociation from the three-party trust formed in the wake of the agreement to run the BDLM. The move broke a 12-year-old resolution of the three parties to run the museum with a trust for its efficient management.
The 2015 resolution was moved by the Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS), which was the most vocal critic of the trust’s plans in allegedly usurping the playground, adjoining the BDLM for further operations. Objections were also raised against the failure of the trust to provide a place for the ‘Chaitya Bhoomi’, Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar’s Memorial in the draft development plan 2034 prepared for the BDLM, Sarma said, citing media reports.
Meanwhile, the Seventh Pay Commission of the State has recommended upgrading the Directorate of Museum to a Level-II one in its recommendation number 4.1 (b) under chapter 15. But for that it has given a condition – it should be done after the Directorate of Museum’s merger with the Directorate of Archaeology.
This means the Pay Commission is for obliteration of not only the DHAS but also for the Directorate of Museum.
It may be mentioned here that the directorates of Museum and Archaeology were bifurcated in 1984 because of the differences in their mandates.