Monday, 30th October 2017

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Centre to preserve the old, priceless

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  • Published 8.12.04

Old is gold. Don?t sell old shawls, palanquins, lanterns, moth-eaten books or even cheques at throwaway prices. Instead, wait for someone to collect them. The priceless items will be preserved at a centre, proposed to be set up in Salt Lake.

Society for Preservation, Calcutta ? a public trust ? has come forward to construct the centre on a 5.5-cottah plot. The centre will collect archival material lying with individuals, business houses, solicitor firms, voluntary organisations and other agencies and preserve them after restoration.

State urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya will lay the foundation stone of the Rs 2-crore project on December 10. The five-storey building, each floor measuring 8,000 sq ft, will house a museum, a lecture hall, a reference library, a research centre and a microfilm unit.

?For the first time in eastern India, an attempt is being made to collect old documents and other material of archival value from private sources and preserve them,? said Amiya Gooptu, working president of the Society.

?The idea was conceived by historian Nisith Ranjan Ray more than a decade ago. But it could not materialise during his lifetime. We are happy that the project has finally taken off,? he added.

The centre is expected to be ready within two-and-a-half years. The land in Salt Lake has been provided by the state government against a token payment.

The funds for the building will be collected through donations from individuals, business houses and foreign agencies.

?We have already appealed to the British and Japanese governments for funds,? Gooptu informed Metro.

Society secretary Aveek Ray said: ?In order to create awareness among the people about preservation of archival material, we will organise seminars and meetings.?

The centre, he added, will also collect documents and sketches of various old buildings from municipal bodies and public works department offices, and copies of significant judgments dating back to pre-Independence days from court.

Letters written by Rabindranath Tagore, Sarat Chandra Chatterjee and other noted personalities, too, will figure in the centre?s collection.

?Our idea is to help a scholar conduct a thorough research on Calcutta ? its past and present. For that reason, some present-day documents highlighting the changing fa?ade of the city will be stored,? Society secretary Ray said.

Officials working on the project said arrangements will be made to microfilm all old documents, which will be collected from individuals, business houses and voluntary organisations.

Foreign experts will be brought in to supervise the preservation of the documents and other material, including old shawls and utensils.