Priceless archives, pitiable upkeep

Priceless archives, pitiable upkeep

Although situated on the main road near Tarnaka crossroads, one may miss because the building appears obscure and its identity gets tragically cut short beyond this point.

Nation’s largest repository gets miniscule budget

 The records which are yet to be digitisedBoasting of a vast and exclusive collection of more than 50 million records dating back to the 15thcentury, the State Archives and Research Institute has a track-record that is the stuff of legends as least in the calculations of historians, chroniclers of every known field of specialisation. For an institute that houses the largest repository of land records in the country, including those from the 17th centre., its identity gets tragically cut short here.

Although situated on the main road near Tarnaka crossroads, one may miss because the building appears obscure and its identity gets tragically cut short beyond this point.

Operated on shoestring budget and plagued by terrible staff crunch, the repository of history is on a downward spiral, largely because of various factors.

A couple of years ago, the institute launched an ambitious digitisation process of a multitude of archives. Unfortunately, because of a miniscule budget the work is going on at a snail’s pace.

“The budget was a mere Rs five lakh when I assumed charge in 2009, Now five years later, it stands at Rs 2.17 crore, which is still less than the minimum required budget to pursue the plans,” points out Zareena Parveen, director.

A shot in the arm for various sectors came when the then chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy approved budgetary allocation of Rs three crore that was earmarked extensively for digitization of records. However, the entire funding is not released to the department.

The director admits that digitisation takes lot of time and it is directly proportional to the budget allocated as “it takes Rs 22 lakh to make one compact row.”

The process is rather long and monotonous. The documents are cleaned, stitched if torn, and the manuscripts are pasted on hand made paper to ensure longevity. The manuscripts are being reworked by the National Manuscripts Machine (NMM) from Delhi. Once the related works are accomplished, the documents and manuscripts are stored in the Compacts. The department suffers from yet another problem. As it is yet to be bifurcated, the finances are hard to come by.

Though the advisory board set up guidelines stating that the division has to be in the 60:40 ratio for TS and AP, it hasn’t taken a concrete shape.

“Neither of the State government is keen on releasing further funds citing bifurcation as the bone of contention. This hampered the work and it has come to a literal stand still,” informs a senior official.

Save the small mercies because unlike other organisations which have not received funds for meeting salaries, the staff here receives salaries that is being released by the Telangana government.

According to Ranga Raj, deputy director, “around 12 of the 50 lakh documents have been digitised so far. If the governments release the stipulated budget of Rs 3 crore, works will gather pace.”

The officials informed that the documents will be segregated based on geography. “We will make two copies of the original. The original goes to the geographically relevant region while the photocopy is given to the other State,” they stated.

By: Aditya Parankusam

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