GUWAHATI, June 20 � Mismanagement and lack of professionalism and discipline in the Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra � an exclusive repository of the State�s art and culture � have resulted in the loss of over 35,000 photographs besides a large number of CDs, VCDs and DVDs.
The collection included many rare photographs and videos.
And now it seems a blame game is on to fix responsibility for the negligence that has caused irreparable damage to such an invaluable asset.
Addressing a press conference, Secretary of the Kalakshetra, Chabin Rajkhowa said that Antara GG Choudhury who was in charge of the documentation and archives section was responsible for the damage to the photographs and CDs and DVDs � something vehemently denied by the latter.
�Choudhury failed to take even the basic care for preserving the photographs, and used to keep them in envelopes instead of albums with the result that those were damaged badly. When I discovered the lapse after taking charge in July 2009, I immediately shifted the collection to an air-conditioned room,� Rajkhowa said.
When contacted, Choudhury claimed that she was being made a scapegoat for no fault of hers, and that preservation of the items was not her responsibility as she was essentially entrusted with the task of documentation and publicity only.
�There is no system of scientific preservation of such items in the Kalakshetra, and the authorities are blaming me to hide their own failure. Though I joined the Kalakshetra in 2000, I was its publicity and documentation officer between 2006 and 2009 only, and I was asked to keep the photos and CDs in two small, rickety almirahs,� she said, and questioned why the authorities sought an explanation from her after a lapse of 14 months after the �anomalies� were detected.
Rajkhowa also alleged that a conspiracy was on by a vested interest group to have him removed from the Kalakshetra and which was behind the �baseless and motivated smear campaign� against him in a section of the media.
�Ever since I took charge, I endeavoured to enforce strict discipline and a healthy work culture among all the employees besides the contractual and casual workers. Naturally, certain sections of these people were not happy and they joined the conspiracy against me,� Rajkhowa said, adding that none of the employees or workers who had recently left the Kalakshetra were sacked and that they tendered their resignations as per rules of the establishment due to various reasons, including incompetence. He added that the assessment and executive committees also endorsed the Kalakshetra�s stand in this regard.
Rajkhowa also revealed that the Chief Minister had ordered a departmental inquiry into the different allegations concerning the Kalakshetra�s functioning and that should clear the matter up.
�My efforts are aimed at bringing out the best in the employees and not to subject them to any mental harassment as alleged. As an incentive to conscientious workers, we recently awarded three employees with cash for their exemplary performance,� he said.
Rajkhowa said that the Kalakshetra has been vibrant with different cultural activities and the number of footfalls to it was on the rise as was generation of revenue.
�Our annual revenue collection is Rs 1.2 crore and it has been registering an increasing trend. The number of people visiting the Kalakshetra has also increased noticeably in recent years,� he added.
Rajkhowa revealed that the Kalakshetra now had at its disposal Rs 9 crore including a corpus fund, and its immediate task was to complete the construction of four auditoriums.
�The Chief Minister recently released the amount to the Kalakshetra which would be utilized for completing the work on the auditoriums,� he said.
Rajkhowa said that as part of his efforts to bring in transparency and financial discipline into the Kalakshetra�s functioning, all payments were now made in cheque and not in cash.