Any idea where the regional office of the State Archives Department is located? If your answer is in the negative, no need to feel sorry about it. Not only the general public but also many scholars, who can refer to ancient records for their research purpose, are oblivious of its location.

Rare manuscripts and records are gathering dust and slowly rotting. Ironically, the invaluable archives are stored in an ancient building, the antiquity of which is competing with that of the records. During the last five years, the regional office was shifted twice. It was located in a private building, in a nondescript street, close to the AU Out Gate between 1992-2005 before it was shifted to a small building at Lawson’s Bay Colony. It moved to the present building on AU campus in March 2008.

Though the building is spacious, the tiled roof has developed leaks at some places resulting in the damage of old books during the last monsoon. The growth of shrubs all around the building is also contributing to the proliferation of pests and insects that are feeding on rare manuscripts. Though the university is charging Rs.9,000 a month as rent, itis not taking any steps for maintenance of the building.

Ancient land records, both Government and private, of Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts along with survey numbers are available.

Some of the invaluable documents available include: census of various towns and cities in India for over a century, Acts, gazetteers, memoirs, Survey of India reports on archaeology, Standing Orders, almanacs, biographies, codes, history, agriculture reports, Sanskrit, Urdu, treaties, encyclopaedia, journals, books on inscriptions, religion and books donated by Zamindar B.N. Sarma.

Major problem

Shortage of staff is another major problem haunting the regional office. There are only three staff members, including the Archivist in-charge, to safeguard the treasure trove of knowledge. There is not even a watchman to guard the building during nights. “There is a proposal for digitialisation of the index of the regional office. We have records from the time of Madras Presidency. Despite shortage of staff, we are taking measures to put naphthalene balls and spray insecticides all around the building on a regular basis to keep pests at bay,” Archivist and in charge of the regional office B. Devadasu told The Hindu.

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