TELEPHONES CUT off for non-payment of bills, huge electricity arrears, rampant pilferage and theft and a skeletal staff totally untutored in the niceties of either conservation or maintenance.
This, in a nutshell, is the story of Rajwada and Lalbag-two of the City’s most important heritage monuments. Clearly, conservation of these precious architectural landmarks is not high on the priority of the Directorate, Archaeology, Archives and Museums.
Consider this, neither Deputy Director VP Nagaich nor any other senior official bothered to visit either Rajwada or Lalbag on Tuesday, World Heritage Day.
Nagaich’s predilection for spending time in the State capital is well known but one expected him to at least pay lip service to conservation by turning up today.
With the top officials rarely around the task of running the two landmarks are left almost entirely in the hands of daily wagers. And although they do a pretty creditable job their performance is limited by lack of qualification.
By all accounts, staffers are at a premium. “The West Zone which oversees 56 monuments has only 2 assistant engineers and a single executive engineer.” This is not all, the Directorate, which is responsible for 365 monuments across the State, doesn’t have a single full-time conservation architect on its payroll.
Take Lalbag, arguably among the most important heritage structures in the region. Spread over 72 acres the vast premises merely has three chowkidars. The scant security has resulted in several instances of molestation and petty thefts.
“Until a couple of months ago two policemen were deployed here but they were pulled out as the Directorate couldn’t afford to pay salaries,” reveals a daily wager.
Being in the heart of the City Rajwada has fared a little better. Although the phones here, like those at the district museum and Lalbag, don’t work, work is under progress to restore a temple that was destroyed in a blaze during the anti-Sikh riots in 1984.
The funds, though, have come not from the Directorate but the Usha Raje Trust. “Lack of money was the main hindrance. Now that the Culture Department has sanctioned Rs. 6 crore for Lalbag and Rajwada extensive renovation will be undertaken at both these places once the money comes through,” declared Deputy Director Nagaich over the phone from Bhopal.
The Directorate has also carried out works amounting to nearly Rs. 25 lakh for creating pathways and approach routes at Khijlidya Burj (Mandsaur) and Pola Dungar caves as well as reconstructing the boundary wall of Hinglajgarh Fort, he added.