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Firm supposed to get artifact conservation project found inexperienced; tender cancelled

By Irshad Khan

Srinagar Apr 02: Finding the selected firm incompetent for the project, the Directorate of Archives, Archaeology and Museums (AA&M) has cancelled the tenders for over Rs 1 crore artifact conservation work.
The AA&M had earlier awarded Rs 1.36 crore restoration and conservation work of crucial flood-hit artifacts at the SPS Museum at Lal Mandi to the New Delhi-based ‘Sagar NGO’.
However, after a Jaipur-based firm raised questions over Sagar NGO’s credentials, the AA&M had asked the latter to produce the “original documents” of its work profile.
“In view of the controversies and little experience” of Sagar NGO, the Director AA&M has in an order issued Saturday directed that the firm’s selection for the project “be considered for cancellation and further action accordingly”.
Sagar NGO, the order reads, “has not done any work in natural history”, a necessary requirement for the conservation project.
The order has said that Sagar NGO “cannot do justice with the conservation of different artifacts housed in the museum”.
“Most of the works” carried out by Sagar NGO as per the AA&M “pertain to documentation and meager works in conservation of the artifacts”.
Post cancelling the tenders, Director AA&M, Mohammad Shafi Zahid however did not specify when they would float the new tenders for the project.
‘Art Conservation and Restoration House’, the Jaipur-based firm which had questioned the Sagar NGO’s ‘unfair’ selection for the project expressed satisfaction over the AA&M’s decision to cancel the tenders.
Proprietor of the firm, Maimuna Nargis asked the AA&M to float the new tenders for the project “without any delay”.
Any delay in retendering the project, Nargis said would put the artifacts at the museum damaged more than 3 years ago at risk.
“They (the artifacts) are lying damaged at the museum since 2014. They would get damaged further with the passage of time unless protected,” she said.
Nargis hoped that the AA&M checks the credentials of the firm before awarding to it the conservation project.
“Whichever firm they select, its work experience in the relevant field should be checked beforehand, because it is the question of conservation of hundreds of important artifacts at the (SPS) museum. The selected firm should have a degree in the conservation field,” she emphasised.
Raising questions over Sagar NGO’s selection for the project, Nargis said, was “only to caution the directorate”.
“I did not want any returns. I only wanted them to check the work experience of the selected firm. The thousands of artifacts related to art and culture should not have got damaged,” she added.
Earlier, Nargis had alleged that Sagar NGO lacked the required expertise for carrying out the artifact conservation project.