Millennium Post

BJP-ruled MCD neglects rare book library once patronised by Patel

The 90-year-old library, located in Chandni Chowk, is dying a slow death due to acute fund crunch as the municipal body has stopped releasing money since last few years. What the worse is that library, run by a private body, is neither in a position to bear the maintenance cost of over 55,000 books housed by it, nor is it able to pay its staff. 

The library staff claim that the municipal corporation, which is authorised to provide funds, in the form of grants, is not paying any heed to their needs. On the other hand, the corporation officials rue that they are equally helpless since they too are not getting money from the state government to help the library staff or better its decrepit situation.

Shri Mahavir Jain Public Library was opened in October 1924 in Central Delhi by some of the freedom fighters and in a short span of time it became a key destination for independence struggle luminaries. In barely 10 years into its inauguration, it was visited by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, C Rajgopalachari, Dr Rajendra Prasad, Kasturba Gandhi, Sarojini Naidu, Jayaprakash Narayan, Aruna Asaf Ali, Ghanshyam Das Birla and scores of other dignitaries on various occasions. The library was a frequent meeting point for the leaders during the freedom movement. These leaders not only gathered here but put in their best efforts to turn it into a hub of rare books. Visit of dignitaries was a common phenomenon after independence, a practice which continued till 1991, when Giani Zail Singh, the former President of India, visited the place.

According to the staff, the library needs nearly Rs. 12 lakh per year for its upkeep. North MCD was paying Rs. five lakh and the remaining expense was being borne by the Jain society. But in last couple of years, North MCD had stopped releasing funds claiming that the state government was not allocating money for the same. “We are in deep crisis as the MCD is not giving us any grant. As we have collection of rare books which are more than 500 years old, it requires adequate fund to maintain them properly and to safeguard them from degeneration. Apart from this, there is a need to purchase new books to attract more reader,s but we are helpless. It’s very unfortunate that a library which has a strong historical background is on the verge of closure due to apathy of municipal body,” said Fateh Chand Soni, president of the library. 
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