'Renovation drama' at Abhinav theatre | india | Hindustan Times
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'Renovation drama' at Abhinav theatre

The only cultural institution in Jammu, J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, which has been catering to artistes' requirements since its inception in 1978, is presently facing a crisis over Abhinav Theatre renovation, which is turning out to be a 'sardonic' exercise over the past more than a year.

india Updated: Sep 08, 2013 19:19 IST
Vikram Sharma

The only cultural institution in Jammu, J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, which has been catering to artistes' requirements since its inception in 1978, is presently facing a crisis over Abhinav Theatre renovation, which is turning out to be a 'sardonic' exercise over the past more than a year.


Adding the insult to the injury is the state's tourism and culture minister Raman Bhalla's nonchalance to the 'degradation', who despite many attempts does not care to respond to calls or messages sent to him.

This third report being carried by the Hindustan Times over the past couple of months over the sorry state of affairs at the institute has been deprived of the minister's take over the issue as he never picks the call or responds to messages sent by HT.

Irregularities, infrastructural defects and deficiencies, including technical faults and failures, have become commonplace in the 'renovation drama' being exercised in JKAACL in the name of lifting the institute to international level, yet a simple act of installation of chairs in the hall has made mockery of the entire exercise.

The work of installation of chairs contracted out to Godrej company by the nodal agency, public works department (PWD), which is taking care of 'renovation of cultural institution', was found substandard and inferior and now the chairs are being pulled out to be replaced with new ones.

The goof up is being blamed on 'lack of expertise'. "We were not taken in loop by the PWD and it went on its own until something wrong was detected in the installation of chairs and a committee was to be set up to look into the faults," said JKAACL secretary Khalid Bashir.

He admitted that the committee formed by the tourism and culture department intervened into the PWD affairs and stopped installation of chairs which are of inferior quality and less durability.

About 800 audience chairs were installed in the theatre by the Godrej company, each costing Rs 4,500 approximately, including 50-55 luxury chairs at the cost of Rs 9,000 each for the VIPs, making the total cost about `40 lakh.

All chairs are now being uprooted and will be replaced with new ones.

The JKAACL had even expressed its dissatisfaction over colour of chairs in black and white to the nodal agency and to higher-ups also, but no steps were taken by anyone in this regard.

The gaffe does not conclude here as sources privy to the developments at the JKAACL say in absence of 'expert guidance' and on the basis of the nodal agency's assumptions only, the sound, light, stage and other allied works of sensitive nature too have not been up to mark.

"The newly renovated hall would present a much degraded impression than its earlier élan," said an academy officer and one of the expert committee members constituted by tourism department whose minister has already turned a blind eye to the issue.

The JKAACL secretary, two additional secretaries from Jammu and Kashmir divisions, Natrang director Balwant Thakur, art historian Lalit Gupta and theatreperson Basher Bhavani are some of the prominent figures on the expert committee.

Theatre is under renovation since April 2012 and after extending deadline repeatedly the project is still hanging fire and might not be completed even in 2013.

The nodal agency heading the said renovation project is the PWD, which is the wholly in-charge of the project and directly spends the funds, nearly Rs 6.83 crore, for various purposes.