Jorhat, Oct. 25: The Majuli Cultural Landscape Management Authority (MCLMA) has sought permission from the government to seek financial aid from the Dutch government to preserve manuscripts dating back to several centuries.
The MCLMA is an agency set up to protect the island under the Majuli Cultural Landscape Region Act, 2006.
The chief executive officer of the authority, S.I. Hussain, who is also the Upper Assam commissioner, has urged Dispur to grant approval to prepare a project proposal, which will be submitted to the Netherlands government to sanction funds under Prince Claus Fund.
The fund, set up in 1996 as a tribute to Prince Claus's dedication to culture and development, grants aid to preserve heritage items that has a threat of being damaged by natural or man-made disaster under the Cultural Emergency Response programme. It also gives awards to individuals and organisations for their work in the field of culture and development.
The agency, which has the Assam chief secretary as its chairman, the cultural affairs principal secretary as its vice-chairman and Upper Assam commissioner as the chief executive officer, was set up to protect the river island from floods and erosion and develop and preserve its unique identity.
Hussain told The Telegraph here today that there were "good number" of old manuscripts dating back to 15th and 16th centuries in the xatras in Majuli, which have immense historical and cultural value, but over the years many of them have been badly damaged by extensive floods and for lack of conservation.
The CEO said he had written to the principal secretary of cultural affairs department, Kumar Sanjay Krishna, recently to grant permission to prepare a detailed-project plan in this regard and to approach the Dutch funding agency.
In order to seek aid from the foreign agency, it is necessary to get approval from the government and also from owner of the heritage goods.
"We have also discussed the proposal with the several xatradhikars before approaching the government," Hussain said.
He said the work of preserving the manuscripts would be done by bringing in experts to Majuli.
The CEO said he had cited in his letter that under the clause 13 of the Majuli Cultural Landscape Region Act 2006, the agency is entitled to receive grants/donations from foreign, state and national organisations and agencies.
The president of Asam Satra Mahasabha ' the apex body of 862 xatras ' Leela Mahanta welcomed the agency's initiative.
"We will support any such effort to preserve priceless documents that carries lot of invaluable information of the culture," Mahanta said.