GUWAHATI, June 27 - The recommendation of the Seventh Pay Commission for the closure of seven directorates and entrusting their works to the departments concerned has evoked sharp reactions here. The Asam Sahitya Sabha and several leading archaeologists, archivists and experts have urged the State government to make its stand clear on the pay panel recommendation immediately.
The State pay commission said that based on the strength of employees and the amount of development funds being utilized by them, it recommends closure of the Directorates of Historical and Antiquarian Studies, Directorate of Public Enterprise, Directorate of Small Savings, Directorate of State Lotteries, TADM (erstwhile Planning and Development Directorate), Editor-in-Chief District Gazetteer, Directorate of Archives and Directorate of Official Language Implementation.
Reacting to this recommendation, Asam Sahitya Sabha president Dr Parama Rajbongshi alleged that because of the government�s failure to work with a clear approach on the implementation of the official languages in the State since the 1990s, a stalemate has arisen in this respect. Had the government adopted a clear-cut policy in this regard, it would have solved a lot of problems related to official languages and would have provided jobs to over five lakh job-seekers.
Again, the government�s stance on the directorates like the Historical and Antiquarian Studies and the State Archives is also halfhearted. These directorates have the potential to emerge as research centres of international repute, he said.
Meanwhile, Guwahati-based conservation society Heritage Conservation Society of Assam (HeCSA) has requested Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal not to accept the pay panel recommendation.
In a letter to the Chief Minister, it has pleaded that the State Archives should instead be made a nodal agency for proper upkeep and maintenance of valuable records in the district mahapeshkhanas (record rooms) by filling up all its sanctioned posts. Opposing the Historical and Antiquarian Studies closure proposal, the HeCSA said the directorate has by now become a part of the literary, intellectual and cultural heritage of the entire northeastern region.
The British rulers set up the archives in Guwahati as the record room of their administration in Assam in their initial days here. It has records starting from the days of Lord Warren Hastings since around AD 1772, when Assam (now Northeast India) affairs were monitored from the Calcutta-based Fort William. It has over 5,000 maps, including that of the Kamatapur princely state, some rare revenue-related maps, some rare sectoral maps concerning areas like Doyang, Merapani and frontier tracts like Balipara, Sadiya, etc.
The records it has include the ones related to the establishment of the British Raj in Assam, the British-Assam (NE) tribal relations, surface, rail and waterways communication, the ropeway constructed to connect East Bengal with Cherrapunji, the first systematic Brahmaputra survey, urbanisation and growth of modern towns in Assam with rail and waterways connections, trade and commerce, and above all the ones on the development of tea and oil industries here.
The Directorate of Historical and Antiquarian Studies was set up in 1928 at the instance of the then Director of Public Instruction, Assam John Richard Cunningham. Its founder director was AHW Bentinck. Renowned historian Dr Surya Kumar Bhuyan was its third director. Among its collections, it has around 2,900 old manuscripts written on sanchipat,�tulapat and modern papers. Some of these manuscripts are illustrated ones. It has a collection of around 21,000 books, besides the copies of newspapers published from the State since AD 1922.
The directorate also has a collection of 16 copper plates, which were issued by the Ahom rulers since the reign of Swargadeo Gadadhar Singha to the time of Swargadeo Chandrakanta Singha.