Kolkata, Sep 24 (PTI) A Comptroller and Auditor General of India report has criticised the Indian Museum Kolkata for damaging priceless artefacts during modernisation work from 2017-18, contending that the project lacked any proper conservation plan.
The report for the year ended March 2018, tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, said no guideline and laid down criteria for restoration of monuments issued by the Union Ministry of Culture were followed while work was undertaken, and the executing agency had no expertise in conservation of heritage buildings.
'Proper conservation processes were not followed during renovation resulting in damage to priceless artefacts,' CAG said, adding, financial safeguards were also not ensured.
'Works sanctioned at a cost of Rs 83.66 crore were executed for Rs 105.70 crore, with works estimated to cost Rs 25.76 crore not awarded at all,' the report said.
The Indian Museum Kolkata, which is under the Union Ministry of Culture, was founded in 1814 and is the oldest museum in the country.
The CAG audit further noted that storage and upkeep of reserved artefacts were 'completely ignored' during the project execution, although provision for modern storage system for the artefacts were included in the proposal at an estimated cost of Rs 15.75 crore.
'The reserves account for almost 94 per cent of the collection of museum and consist of inorganic objects susceptible to heat and humidity,' it said.
'Fire detection system and CCTV surveillance were also not provided in the reserve store, though included in the approved cost,' the report said.
Asked to comment on the CAG report, the museum's Officiating Director A D Choudhury told PTI, 'I have been in charge for the past six months. And, any such modernisation work happened before that. Let me look into the details of the CAG findings and the previous projects before giving any official response.' Reacting to the development, Trinamool Congress Secretary General Partha Chatterjee said the BJP-led government at the Centre is 'always busy finding faults' of the West Bengal government.
'It should instead do some soul searching and see how its own departments are functioning,' he said.
The state BJP refused to comment on the issue, saying it will examine the contents of the report first. PTI SUS RBT RBT