The careless approach of the authorities towards preserving a megalithic urn unearthed from a historical site near Nedumkandam has led to its complete ruin. The urn, which was to be kept in the Idukki Heritage Museum, is lying abandoned near the building.

The burial urn, which was excavated from Thovalappady near Nedumkandam, was left in the museum’s backyard and covered with a plastic sheet. No steps were taken to move the urn into the building. With the plastic cover being blown off in the wind, the ruined urn lies exposed to rain all day and night.

The museum was opened with much fanfare by the Idukki district panchayat as part of the ‘Discovering Idukki’ project 2011-’12. The museum has a collection of nearly 70 megalithic artefacts, including burial urns, decorative pottery work, remains of iron weapons, copper beads and stone axes, and is yet to be opened to the public.

District panchayat president M.T. Thomas told The Hindu on Thursday that the museum could not be opened as some works had to be completed. He said that the heritage museum is a prestigious project and a decision on preserving the relics scientifically will be taken at the next council meeting. The museum was opened with the aim of not only preserving the historical remains, but also to provide researchers the basic tools for unravelling the rich heritage of the district.

“It is a unique project, but some works have to be completed,” he said, adding that the documentation of the relics, methods for scientific preservation and the appointment of a guide to provide information to the visitors are yet to be done.

At present, the historical relics, including the remains of iron weapons excavated from different megalithic sites in the High Ranges, are kept open a stand. This could hasten the rusting process of the iron weapons. Even the burials urn tend to break due to unscientific methods of preservation, say experts.

A large number of visitors, including foreigners, arrive daily to see the museum and return disappointed.

District panchayat secretary and the officer-in-charge of the project said that he was not aware of the urn being exposed to the rain. He said the district panchayat is keen to implement the second phase of the project and the museum will soon be opened to the public. A large number of people keen on history are coming to the museum, he said, adding that all efforts would be taken to open the museum soon.

“The megalithic remains are symbols of a society that revered its dead. It is shameful that the burial urn unearthed is left lying around to be ruined. Given the present condition of the urn, it will be quite difficult to move and preserve it,” said a member of the exploration team, who worked for the museum.