Interim report under consideration of court

Noting that hurry may spoil the quality of inventory work at Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, an expert committee report wants the Supreme Court to give it time till August 2013 to file a final report and accession register of the varied treasure found in the temple vaults.

“This scientific work requires meticulous study and precision, it cannot be speeded up beyond a particular limit,” the fifth interim report dated August 6, 2012 by the Supreme Court-appointed expert committee on Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple said.

The committee report is currently under consideration of the apex court, which is also awaiting the independent findings of amicus curiae senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, before passing directions. The case has been scheduled for hearing on November 6.

Seeking a revised time-frame, the expert panel said “this is for the first time in the history of India that an effort to document the varied treasure adopting internationally accepted techniques and inventorisation carried out using software of International Council of Museums standards is being done”.

“The unique data collected, in the long run, will catalyse research on more detailed studies, which will throw light into the history of the nation, particularly, its technical advancements in the past, hitherto unknown,” it reasoned. This proposal for a revision in time schedule comes despite a September 22, 2011 order by the Supreme Court that the committee itself had suggested a time framework of one year to complete the “work”.

The order had also recorded the committee’s assurance that “efforts shall be made to shorten the time schedule without sacrificing the quality of work”. The inventory work had commenced on February 20, 2012, the report shows.

Now, the committee proposes that the final report and accession register on the treasure would be ready by only August 20, 2013.

Further, it has said that a “report on opening kallara B” will be done on March 1, 2013 and another “report on feasibility of museums” will be completed on June 1, 2013.

Noting that it has completed inventory of all objects in vaults C and D, and of those “permitted” in E and F without “compromising on quality”, the report says that inventory of valuables in vault A is time consuming owing to the sheer complexity of its treasures.

“Vault A has different types of necklaces (sarappollimalas) containing various strands ranging from one to nine. Invariably all of them are attached with locket/pendant made of gold, embedded with precious gems. The number of stones in each locket varies from 100 to 150 and the stones are ruby, diamond, emerald, cat’s eye, pearl and occasionally coral,” it says.

The report details how testing the gems for quality, purity and physical property is a painstaking process.

The report distinguishes how in normal course, approximately 30 to 35 objects alone can be documented in a day. While in the case of vault A, documentation is slowed down to probably 2 to 4 objects a day. Some of these valuables contain 250 gems each.

The committee report says how scientific investigation has revealed that vault A is the “safest” among all the opened kallaras. “Vault A, holding most of the valuable items, is the safest of all opened vaults in the temple and priority has to be given to strengthen it,” it said, asking the court’s permission to employ Godrej & Boyce Ltd for the strengthening work “without affecting the heritage structure of the vault”.

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