A priceless statue —- a 2,200-year-old Rampurva Lion Capital —- has been irreparably damaged during the ongoing renovation work at the Indian Museum in Kolkata, an incident which the authorities here tried to push under the carpet.
The statue, a perfect specimen of the evolved architecture of the Mauryan empire, was allegedly being shifted from one lobby of the museum to another using chains and pulleys instead of hydraulic lifts when the incident occurred.
The seven-feet long sculpture, weighing several tonnes, allegedly fell and broke into two halves during shifting. The museum authorities, to hush up the matter, joined the pieces using an adhesive.
“Is that the kind of repair work one expects from professionals?” asked G M Kapur of Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
The Indian Museum is undergoing extensive renovation work ahead of its bicentenary in February next year. The Union ministry of culture has already sanctioned Rs 120 crore for renovation of the museum in the current financial year and another Rs 20 crore each for four successive years. The National Building Construction Company (NBCC) has been engaged to do the renovation work.
According to museum officials, the work is being done at a frenetic pace considering the February deadline. The work is being monitored by West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan, who is also the chairman of the museum’s board of trustees.
Contacted, the Governor denied the incident. “Nothing has been broken as far as I know,” he said.
Meanwhile, the museum authorities refused to comment on the issue.
“It is not our fault. Things are being blown out of proportion. Such accidents happen when such an extensive renovation takes place,” said a museum official on the condition of anonymity.
P K Mishra from Archeological Survey of India said he was sad about the incident but refused to add anything more saying “when a burglary happens in your neighbour’s house, you don’t go to file FIR at the police station”.
Incidentally, attempts were made to push the incident under the carpet. When some staff members of the Indian Museum protested after the statue was damaged, the authorities hurriedly appointed an internal inquiry committee to look into the incident.
The committee reportedly was chaired by a senior official who, incidentally, was in charge of the shifting operations and should be primarily held responsible for the damage. The inquiry committee in its report denied any damage