| Upper Assam commissioner Syed Iftikar Hussain sifts through the debris at Jorhat on Monday. Picture by UB Photos |
Jorhat, June 11: The fire that damaged the first floor of the Upper Assam commissionerís office-cum-residence yesterday also destroyed a precious collection of books on Majuli island.
The over 100-book collection on the Brahmaputra island was kept on the first floor by commissioner S.I. Hussain, who had been putting it together from different sources on the island, including several xatras of Majuli, since he assumed charge of the current post about a year back. He had collected a variety of books on Vaishnavite art and culture to promote these at the state, national and international level. The commissioner is also the chief executive officer of the Majuli Cultural Landscape Management Authority.
The 8,000 square feet building on a 19-bigha plot also housed the office of the authority.
Hussain, who was not in the British-era bungalow when the fire broke out yesterday, literally picked up the pieces of his life today. While sifting through his belongings from the debris of a burnt-out room, the commissioner was pained at not being able to recover the books on Majuli. The entire shelf had been reduced to ashes.
ďI shall again start collecting books on the island as the authority has undertaken a series of activities to create awareness about the island within and outside the state. Our effort to grant World Heritage List tag to the island will continue,Ē Hussain told The Telegraph.
Hussain was trying to set up a library and a database on all aspects of Majuli that would eventually help efforts to secure World Heritage Site status for the island. The authority, set up under the Majuli Cultural Landscape Region Act, 2006 for protection of the unique characteristics of the river island, is a prerequisite for its declaration as a world heritage site by the Unesco.
He was, however, happy to retrieve a precious Mecca shrine imprinted calendar and an India tourism animal poster from a burnt-out room.
He said he had received calls today from well-wishers in Majuli, including many xatradhikars, inquiring about the extent of damage. All of them had assured him help by way of books and other data required to create an information database on the island.
Hussain, who has put up at the Jorhat Circuit House here, said his office would be temporarily operating from two rooms of the Circuit House. He said his office-cum-residence would be operating by the end of this month from the official residence of an additional deputy commissioner on the bank of the historic Rajmou pukhuri here.
He said the PWD has been asked to clean up the debris and put a temporary roof in place within the next few days to protect the ceiling of the ground floor so that the office, having 35 employees, could start operating again within the next few months.