Telangana Archives dept struggling, in dire need of funds

Hyderabad: The Telangana State Archives and Research Department (TSARD) is one of the most exhaustive places for research in the country, but the TSARD building in the city is in bad need of renovation. The structure, situated at Tarnaka and which was built in 1965, is in dire need to repairs and upkeep.

A visit to the Telangana State Archives and Research Department (TSARD) shows worn out walls with very visible cracks, wires jutting out of their sockets in some parts of the establishment, and other lack of repairs, all of which hint at the need for a renovation.

Assistant Director of the Institute, MA Raqeeb, told, “A good archives department is supposed to have Conservation rooms, laboratories, fumigation chambers and other such needs. While we have most of this, the status of the building which is slowly falling apart, threatens the plight of our archival material.”

The Telangana Archives department houses administrative records from the Nizam era, royal decrees from the late 1700s, information about the history of floods in the City, Estate records and a plethora of other valuable information on the history of the City and the State. In fact, it has one a largest collection of Mughal-era documents in the country as well.

Post the bifurcation of the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh, the archives department in Tarnaka has been struggling. The existing archives were then divided with Telangana obtaining 80% of the records and Andhra Pradesh having access to 20% of the records.

However, as Raqeeb notes, “Despite the disparity in the ownership of records, 58% of the employees are working with the archives for Andhra Pradesh while only 42% of them are for Telangana.”

Adding to the lack of employees, the matters are made trickier by the fact that the maintenance of records, some going as far back as late 1400s is proving to be difficult. Without digitizing these works, the records are susceptible to weather damage, poor handling by research scholars or as often is the case, larva infestation.

In fact during the floods in October 2020, while some works were being shifted to the interim repository at Secretariat some old records got damaged in the rain.

However, the biggest blow to the archives department remains the fact that since the bifurcation of the two states, the department hasn’t been receiving any funds. Under the Congress government from 2010-2014, they received around 2 crores to start the digitization of all documents but had to put a stop on it as the funds stopped coming in post bifurcation.

 “For a land of around 2 acres, a minimum of 25 lakhs is required. However, under the planned budget we haven’t been receiving even 10% of the aid from the government since the last six years which makes it far more difficult to preserve historical documents.” remarked an official from the Archives department.