The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Building delay irks library
- Incomplete store for computerised data casts cloud on centenary bash

The National Library authorities resent the delay in completing Bhasha Bhavan— the four-storey building that will house about 2.5 million computerised documents and books. Rajiv Gandhi had laid the foundation stone of the building, and construction work started in 1993. But the building is yet to be completed and handed over to the library authorities.

On his return from Delhi, Ramanuj Bhattacharjee, officer on special duty (OSD) of the library, said on Sunday that he had expressed his displeasure over the delay to senior officers of the Centre’s department of culture.

“The process of computerisation of nearly 2.5 million valuable documents has already started but is being delayed due to lack of space. The proposed building will store the computerised documents,” he said.

The new building, that will come up on 40,000 sq m, will accommodate 2.5 million rare documents and other important collections of the library. Bhattacharjee stressed that the delay in getting possession of the building from the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) will affect the programme for the library’s centenary celebrations beginning this year.

“I was told the building will be handed over to us in February this year. But now I have come to know from senior CPWD officers that the building will be handed over only in June. We will really find it difficult to observe the centenary celebrations if we don’t get the building by June,” he added.

The Union minister for human resources development is likely to inaugurate Bhasha Bhavan, once it is handed over to the library authorities.

It is learnt that construction cost of the building was estimated at Rs 25 crore. But now it has gone up to Rs 85 crore, thanks to the delay. The library authorities have already bought equipment for computerisation of all the 2.5 million documents and keeping them in the new building. The fumigation chamber, driers and other equipment are ready, but the library cannot instal them as the building is still under construction, Bhattacharjee added.

It is learnt that senior CPWD officials are yet to decide which type of fire-fighting system they will instal in the new building. While some of the officials want to instal the gas system to combat fires in the new building, others prefer the shifting of 80,000 books and documents belonging to the Ashutosh collections to the new building. But the library authorities have not yet got the approval of the department of culture of the Union government for doing this.

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