Srinagar: Shattered tiles and gaping holes on the floor are what visitors to the new SPS Museum building have to watch out for, when they come to see the famed antiques and heritage of Kashmir.
The SPS Museum, which houses artefacts from as old as the 10th century, among them royal manuscripts and a famous idol of Goddess Durga, has been rapidly crumbling even though it got a new building only early this year. To make matters worse, there are no washrooms for visitors. Some school children on a visit reportedly “collapsed” because they had nowhere to relieve themselves.
Officials, who have made repeated complaints about the damage, blame the administration of the Police Housing Corporation for using “substandard material”.
“We are facing huge embarrassment due to the broken floor in different sections of the museum. Hundreds of tourists and heritage lovers visit this museum regularly and the damage putting them to huge inconvenience,” Director Archives, Archaeology and Museums, Muhammad Shafi Zahid told Kashmir Reader.
“We have sent many requests to the executing agency to replace the tiles. However, they turn deaf ears to our requests,” he said.
Tavoos Hassan Bhat, a visitor, said that as soon as he entered the galleries, he was shocked to see the damaged tiles and big holes in the floor.
“I was sad to see such disrepair in the heritage museum. Although the building looked good from outside, but it was total disaster inside. Tiles lie broken, the dust and loose sand below exposed. It may harm the antiques and other rare historical items stored in the museum,” he said.
“Wherever I stepped on the tiles, they started breaking. There is no accountability of the department that is supposed to take care of the museum,” Bhat, who lives in Abu Dhabi, UAE, told Kashmir Reader.
Bhat said he had met the officials of the museum to complain, but they themselves looked helpless.
“They agreed with my concerns and said they had raised them before higher authorities,” he said.
“It is a serious concern as the rare historical items preserved in this museum are our collective national heritage and are in danger due to the unsuitable building they’re stored in,” he rued.
According to the museum’s director, the Police Housing Corporation has been taking the communications sent from the museum “lightly”.
“SPS Museum is considered as a cultural heritage. However, it lacks basic facilities like washrooms and toilets, due to the callous approach of the executing agency,” he said.
Staff members told Kashmir Reader, requesting anonymity, that visitors especially women and children face inconvenience due to the absence of washrooms and toilets.
“Some children collapsed on their visit to the museum as they couldn’t find a washroom to relieve themselves,” they said.
Managing Director of the Police Housing Corporation, Arun Kumar Choudhary, admitted to the damage in the museum floor. However, he refused to divulge any details about why there was delay in the process of repair.
“We have constituted a team to check the damage to the building. Let them complete their visit, I will let you know,” he said.
On the absence of washrooms, Choudhary said there were adequate washrooms in the museum.
“However, if there are requirements for more, we will construct them,” he added.