Millennium Post

Patna heritage bungalows razed for Rs 360 cr museum

Patna heritage bungalows razed for Rs 360 cr museum
Even as Bihar marks 100th anniversary of its foundation day at the historic Gandhi Maidan here, exhorting people to celebrate its heritage, six of the capital’s British-era heritage bungalows are being dismantled to make way for a 360-crore ‘world-class’ museum.

The museum proposed by the state government in the nearly 13 acres area off Bailey Road here, replaces bungalows (no 2 through no 7) of colonial vintage and the adjoining vegetation cover, a move which has upset scholars and heritage lovers alike.

‘It is shocking and shameful. And, isn't it ironic that it is happening alongside Bihar Diwas? History is the worst victim of politics. For a historic city like Patna not being able to preserve its history for posterity proves the failure of the state and the cultural bankruptcy of the masses,’ says Shanker Dutt, an old resident of Patna and professor of English at the Patna University.

Anil Kumar, professor of ancient Indian history, culture and archaeology at the Viswa-Bharati Univeristy at Shanti Niketan in West Bengal points out that the state government ha remained ‘blind and deaf to the destruction of heritage.’

Kumar is also one of the 30 scholars and academics of Bihar and outside the state who had urged chief minister Nitish Kumar to develop important historical sites, which are in total neglect, like the Mauryan site at Agamkuan, instead of spending crores for building a ‘world class museum’ in the city.

‘Instead of investing large sums of money on building new structures the government must use that fund to develop and refurbish existing sites. Bihar is filled with heritage and yet the idea of centrally putting a museum defeats the purpose, as instead it should be decentralised and site-specific, inviting people to travel to different heritage places in the state,’ says Kumar, who has devoted his last ten years researching some of the heritage places of Bihar.

Scholars are also opposing the project, which is only a few kilometres away from Patna's old museum that they say the government could have ‘raised to a world-class status in fraction of the sum spent on this project’.

‘The old Patna Museum built in the 1920s in Indo-Saracenic style and now itself a heritage building could have been raised to a world-class status. But it's badly utilized and fast losing its historic significance,’ adds Kumar.


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