Conservation of flood hit artefacts at SPS Museum in limbo

SRINAGAR: The Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums (AA&M) has failed to execute over Rs 1 crore project for conservation of flood hit artefacts at Srinagar’s SPS Museum over two years after floating tenders for the purpose.
The department had, in October 2017, floated tenders for Rs 1.36 crore project for restoration and conservation of the flood hit artefacts at SPS Museum, Lal mandi. The artifacts had been inundated in the devastating floods of September 2014.
Now, over two years down the line, the department has decided to retender the project after the New Delhi based firm ‘Sagar NGO’, which had emerged as the lowest bidder for the conservation project, was discarded by the department last year given its “incompetent” record.
Official sources in the department told Kashmir Reader that they were in the process of retendering the project even as ‘Sagar NGO’ was trying to impede the work as it had put a stay on retendering the project in the court of law.
The conservation work of the flood hit artefacts had been affected in the process even as the department had recently carried out a “preventive conservation” of the artefacts, an official said.
He said the preventive conservation would ensure conservation of the artefacts for at least 5-8 years.
While the execution of the conservation project was likely to take time, the J&K chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), as per the official, would carry out the conservation work of manuscripts at the SPS Museum for now.
Director AA&M, Muneer ul Islam could not be contacted for his comments over the matter.
It is pertinent to mention that a Jaipur-based firm namely ‘Art Conservation & Restoration House’ had cried foul after the AA&M awarded the conservation project to Sagar NGO.
The proprietor of the firm had alleged that the department had awarded the project to Sagar NGO out of nepotism as the firm was “not at all from the conservation field.”
The allegations had later prompted the department to cancel the tenders with the department also acknowledging that Sagar NGO “has not done any work in natural history”, a necessary requirement for the conservation project.
An order issued in April last year in this regard said that Sagar NGO “cannot do justice with the conservation of different artifacts housed in the museum”.

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