District board writes to govt to shift vintage road roller other antique items to Patna museum
The Patna district board authorities have written to the Bihar government seeking immediate shifting of a rare over-a-century-old steam road roller built by a British company and other
antique artefacts from the collectorate campus to the Patna Museum, even as a large portion of the Dutch-era building housing the items has been demolished.
The vintage steam road roller, manufactured by John Fowler and Co, Leeds, England, is currently languishing in an open area in front of the historic district engineer’s office building situated on the banks of the Ganga river, whose elongated east wing was demolished on July 3 to make way for the new collectorate complex.
“District board, Patna, had several weeks ago written to the Bihar government’s art and culture department requesting them to shift the old road roller and other vintage items owned by the board as they might get damaged or lost in the demolition process,” said Kumari Stuti, chairperson of the board.
“Soon after the demolition of the old, historic buildings began in the Patna collectorate campus in May, we had decided to offer those artefacts to the museum so they could be preserved for the future generations,” Stuti said.
A senior official of the Patna Museum said that a letter has been received by the museum from the art and culture department recently.
“As per the instructions from the department, a team will soon visit the Patna collectorate campus for an official inspection of the road roller and other vintage items like an old wall clock, mentioned in the board’s letter. And, then steps will be taken accordingly,” he said.
District board officials on Friday appealed to the Bihar government authorities to ensure shifting of these heritage artefacts at the earliest as the remaining portion of the Dutch-era district engineer’s office building may be dismantled anytime.
“The old road roller is a very unique heritage as it was powered by steam and used for making roads by the district board. It has to be saved for the current generation and the coming generations. We hope the Patna Museum authorities will do the needful before the rest of the building is brought down,” a senior official of the board said.
District board, Patna, as an institution was set up in 1886. District engineer of the board used to sit in this old building, lending it its name. A beautiful, vintage ceramic plate is also embedded on the top of the southern facade of the district engineer’s office building.
Bulldozers on July 3 had dismantled a large portion of the district engineer’s office building as part of a redevelopment project, on a day a group of citizens had gathered in the city near the collectorate complex to discuss ways to save the threatened Sultan Palace and other heritage buildings from demolition in future.
On May 13 this year, the Supreme Court had rejected a plea by heritage body INTACH, which was fighting a legal battle since 2019 to save the historic landmark from demolition, paving the way for the demolition of the Patna collectorate complex.
Demolition had started the very next day, and 1938-built district board, Patna, building was the first to receive the blows of the bulldozers.