Srinagar, Mar 20: Srinagar will soon have a modern and multi-storey building for its treasure-trove, the SPS Museum. The foundation for the Rs 28 crore building was formally laid by Chief Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad on the left bank of the river Jhelum at Lal Mandi here.
The new building, to replace the old, and now weakened, museum complex will house rare collections of art, archaeological treasures, paintings, textiles, natural history, anthropology, numismatics and old armoury.
The Museum in Srinagar was established in 1898 by the then maharaja with gifts stored in the Toshkhana. Subsequently, it developed into a highly rated museum with prized collections, including rare manuscripts and ancient coins and tools.
There was a feeling for some time that the old building of the museum was not safe and adequate place to scientifically house the precious collections. The building being very old had also suffered damage during the October 2005 earthquake, and had been closed for the public. The museum has 80,000 artifacts of which only 25 per cent were on display in the absence of adequate and safe accommodation.
The Chief Minister, who had been a regular visitor to the museum during his student days in Srinagar, took the initiative to construct a modern museum building according to scientific parameters for preservation of the state's treasure-trove.
The project was conceived and formulated under his supervision and he took personal interest in its execution.
Though work on the project was started in August 2007, Mr Azad did not lay the foundation stone for the museum then, saying, he would do so only when the construction work comes above ground level.
Mr Azed has made as many as 17 visits to the project site to personally inspect the ongoing work being executed by Jammu and Kashmir Police Housing Corporation.
Addressing the foundation laying function, the Chief Minister said the new museum building would be the first in the state, if not the country, whose foundation had been laid 60 feet below the ground.
He further said 624 concrete piles had been erected under ground to support the four storey structure.
The Chief Minister described the upcoming building as a fine specimen of work culture introduced by him in the state. He said the building would be completed in a record time of one year, although it had been initially scheduled to complete in 18 months. Mr Azad further asserted in the past, projects would take decades to complete resulting in cost escalation and inordinate delay in providing the desired benefit to the people.
He said his effort had been to change the culture, where foundation stones of development projects were laid only for electoral or political purposes.
However, he said he refuses to lay the foundation stones until the construction work came above the ground level.
Referred the major projects like Haj House and the Legislature Complex, Mr Azad said he had been constantly monitoring these.
He informed that the Legislature Complex would be completed in May this year, and recalled that while the project was started 27 years back it had been left half way.
He also said only Rs 5 crore was spent on the project during the last 27 years, while Rs 20 crore would be expended to complete it in 7 months.
Mr Azad said even as the new work culture was gaining ground in the state there was need to take it further.
He called upon officers of various departments to personally involve themselves in construction projects of their respective departments, and not only visit the construction site at the time of laying foundation or inauguration.
He added that close monitoring of projects was essential.
Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig, Minister for Social Welfare Abdul Gani Vakil, Advisor to Chief Minister Manzoor Ahmad Ganai, Chairman, Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission Muhammad Shafi Pandit, Chief Managing Director, Jammu and Kashmir Police Housing Corporation, Rajan Bakhshi, Secretary, Culture N K Verma, Director of Achives, senior officers and prominent citizens were present on the ocassion.