The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Post-theft scurry for magic eye

Waking up to a security sieve after a valuable Buddha has gone missing, the country's oldest museum has decided to instal a modern surveillance system, complete with new-generation infra-red sensors and cameras.

A week after the December 29 theft of the 5th Century sandstone head of Buddha, Indian Museum director Shakti Kali Basu said on Tuesday that the surveillance system, once installed, would make the Chowringhee landmark as secure as the National Museum and Salar Jung Museum.

A proposal seeking funds to the tune of Rs 1 crore has been sent for a nod to the department of culture in Delhi.

'We have already put forward a detailed proposal for a modern surveillance system. We will begin work as soon as we receive the official okay,' said Basu.

Also awaiting the nod was the special crime branch of the CBI. 'We are yet to receive an official intimation about commencing the probe,' claimed A.K. Sahay, superintendent of police, CBI.

The move to overhaul the security system comes days before a high-powered delegation from the department of culture, led by Union secretary Neena Ranjan, arrives to attend an emergency meeting called by Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi.

The meeting, to be attended by the board of trustees of Indian Museum, will discuss security proposals in line with recommendations being drafted by a committee, headed by National Museum director K.K. Chakraborty, reviewing security in all major museums across India.

As per the Indian Museum proposal, infra-red sensors, smoke detectors and burglary alarms are a must.

But the star feature of the new security blanket would be the Access Control System, capable of retrieving images of all visitors entering and exiting the museum.

This would enable the authorities to scan the identity of each visitor and detect, by means of an X-ray, any artefact being carried out.

Apart from the galleries, the infra-red sensors would also be placed in the Paintings Gallery.

Till the security revamp, the authorities have decided to keep away a few precious but small exhibits. 'Since all the items are not covered within our existing security system, we have decided to pull them out of the display galleries,' explained director Basu.

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