Protecting artefacts remains a major challenge for the staff
On the occasion of the 100-years celebrations of the Andhra Saraswata Parishat, the government of India sanctioned a sum of Rs. 4 crore for constructing a new building to house the rarest of the rare palm scripts and manuscripts in 2011. Even after three years, the museum continues to be in the same dilapidated building and protecting the scripts from rain and shine remained a major challenge for the staff.
“We are representing the issue to the government time and again. The funds are not released owing to some technical issues. There was an immediate need to protect the trove and preserve it for the future generations,” says L. Seshu Kumari, convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage’s (INTACH) East Godavari chapter.
A collection of literature including 5,000 palm scripts, 500 manuscripts and as many as 10,400 titles in different languages are in the custody of the State government’s Archaeology and Museums department and placed in the Andhra Sahitya Parishat Government Museum and Research Institute, located opposite Raja Tank in Kakinada.
Jayanthi Ramaiah Panthulu, historian and writer, established Andhra Sahitya Parishat in Madras way back in 1911. With the financial supported extended by the Maharajah of Pithapuram, the Parishat published ‘Andhra Sahitya Parishat Patrika’ and collected volumes on various subjects from Ayurveda to dance and drama.Landmark dictionary
The landmark dictionary in Telugu ‘Sri Suryarayandhra Nighantuvu’ was one of the proud publications of the Parishat. The Maharajah’s initiative brought the Parishat to Pithapuram in 1921 and to Kakinada in the following year. Over a period of time, the Parishat got inactive and the entire trove of manuscripts and palm scripts were handed over to the department of Archaeology in June 1973.
During the time of centenary celebrations, the officials found that some of the palm scripts were at the risk of extinction and commenced chemical treatment to protect them.
However, the project was halted halfway owing to paucity of funds.
The scripts are safeguarded in almirahs, as the roof of the museum building got damaged. No new officer has been appointed following the retirement of the Assistant Director a couple of years ago.