Govt. to levy entry fee in district museums

CHENNAI AUG. 10. The State Government has decided to levy an entry fee in district museums. There are 20 such museums in the State. Till recently, entry was free in all museums except Kanyakumari. However, the Chennai Government Museum has been levying a fee for over a decade, sources say.

But the Tamil Culture-Development and Religious Endowments department's order has laid down separate structures for the Chennai and Pudukottai museums and a uniform one for the remaining 19 museums.

Though the order was issued in June last week, printing of tickets was completed last month. ``Only two museums are yet to despatch the tickets and it will be done in a day or two'', an official said. Since last week, many museums had started levying the fee.

According to the Government Order, the Rs. 15 will be charged for adults in Chennai and Pudukottai, and Rs. 5 in the remaining museums. For children, it is Rs. 10 in Chennai, Rs.5 in Pudukottai and Rs. 3 in others. For foreigners, the rates are $ 5, 3 and 2 for Chennai, Pudukottai and others respectively. The concessional rates, applicable to categories such as students, are Rs. 5, Rs.3 and Rs.2. The purpose behind the levy is to modernise the museums, the order states.

One reason why the Pudukottai museum has been given a different treatment is that it is the largest and oldest museum in the State after Chennai, with many precious collections, the sources said. It was established in 1910 by the erstwhile princely Thondaiman rulers.

The Chennai Museum witnessed a lot of improvement in the past one year in connection with its 150th anniversary. Some of its galleries and the theatre, a heritage monument, were renovated at a cost of Rs. 4.4 crores. They were formally dedicated to the public by the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, in June. The ELCOT has been given the task of establishing an electronic surveillance system, estimated to cost around Rs. 80 lakhs. The work was expected to be completed in six months, say the sources. An NGO has been entrusted with cleaning of the campus and the TEXCO (Tamil Nadu Ex-Servicemen Corporation) for security.

Between 1997 and 2001 Palani, Tiruvarur, Sivaganga, Kancheepuram, Nagapattinam, Karur, Ramanathapuram and Virudhunagar museums were opened.