Headless Archives, Aracheology Department totally defunct

Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, Apr 27: Custodian of ancient monuments and antiquities, the Department of Archives, Archaeology, Museums, Antiquities and Records has totally become defunct as it is presently not only headless but also faced severe staff crunch.
Unfortunately, the present Government has failed to understand the utility and importance of the Department -the mother of five organizations which was established in the year 1904 by then ruler of the State, Maharaja Partap Singh to protect the antiquities and maintain the old records besides up keeping the archives and monuments. According to sources, the Department is presently on crutches as it is confronted with over 40 percent staff shortage for years together.
Sources said the Department is presently headless as the Government has failed to appoint its Director after the retirement of M S Zahid on March 31 this year. Not only the Director but 13 gazetted posts one Deputy Director, one Assistant Director and other officers out of staff strength of 17 gazetted posts are lying vacant  in the Department and it seems filling up these vital posts seems to be no priority of the Government. In addition to it 83 posts of non gazetted cadre out of a total staff strength of 263 posts are also lying vacant in the Department for a pretty long time and the Government at the helm of affairs took no pains in filling up them, sources added.
Sources said the Department is totally defunct at present as besides the Director the posts of Deputy Director, Assistant Director Archeology, Registering Officer Antiquities, Curator Dogra Art Gallery, Chief Curator, Administrative Officer,  2 posts of Research Assistants and Registrar in gazette cadre are lying vacant for a pretty long time.
The lack of attention by the Government in putting the Department on rails has created many apprehensions in the minds of people as whether it is interested in safeguarding and protecting the old monuments, museums and antiquities in the State or not, sources added.
Sources said the non gazetted posts were referred to Subordinate Services Selection Board  (SSRB) over five years back but till date it failed to fill up these posts. Being a Technical Department the gazetted cadre is filled up from in service employees through promotion but the same also could not be done due to reasons best known to the Government, sources added.
Sources said this way this one of the oldest Departments of the State is totally defunct with the result the registration of antiquities, registration of archives records and identification of monumental and heritage sites is delayed.  Being a technical Department there has been a precedence of promoting the in service employees to the higher posts up to the rank of Director.
Sources said “but this process has been given up for last some years with the result the Department has become totally defunct in the State and it could not cope up with the tasks like completion of much talked about SPS Museum Srinagar, shifting of records to the Kala Kendra from old Secretariat, Jammu, taking over of Miras Mehal Sopore which is a one man collection.
The Miras Mehal is the collection of late Atiqa Bano, former Joint Director Education who had been recipient of Best Performance Award also. It is the collection of manuscripts, scriptures, paintings etc. But the museum is lying defunct as the Department failed to take over or adopt it though announced earlier, sources added.
Besides, the Department of State Archives failed to take over the objects which were excavated by Archeological Survey of India from its Burzhama site in Srinagar Kashmir due to staff crunch. Moreover no further excavation could take place on the ancient Terracotta sites of Letpora in Pampore tehsil of Pulwama district of Kashmir valley and Kutbal in tehsil Uttersoo in South Kashmir district of Anantnag. These two places have lot of potential to have site museums and after the excavation in 2004 and 20004 these sites are yet to be declared protected monuments, sources said.
Besides, the Department has a lot of work to do including the digitalization of records but it seems that it is no priority of the Government , sources added.
The Director in the Department is an important post as he/she has been declared as Competent Authority of Monuments besides Coordinator National Mission of Monuments by National Monument Authority of Archeological Survey of India (ASI).
In addition to it, the Director has to act as Coordinator National Mission of Monuments, Member Advisory Board, National Archives of India and Member Board of Archives.
But for the State Government this all seems meaningless as it has constantly neglected the Department, sources added.