At a time when the state government is reaching metro cities to promote tourism in Jammu and Kashmir, the Kala Kendra, a state-of-art museum in the heart of Jammu remains 'neglected', which is evident from the condition of the building, once established to preserve, conserve and showcase rich cultural heritage of the state.
A double storied massive building with extensively stretched lawns houses dust, trash, pigeons, rats, knee height grass and debris, besides, provide safe shelter to gamblers, drug addicts and beggars.
"You can see the condition of the building. It was meant for showcasing artifacts related to culture of the state, but here one can find only dust, debris and birds, which is unfortunate," said a visitor, who happens to be an artist.
He added that in the recent past the government sanctioned approximately Rs 50 lakh for its renovation, but there are no signs of development in the building, which is evident from the accumulation of dust and ripped tiles, besides locked empty rooms and broken fans and window panes.
"The condition of this center is pathetic. No authority is ready to take responsibility. They only appear to take money for installing exhibition at the Kala Kendra," he asserted and added that the gallery of the museum is made up of an inner dingy room where artifacts are kept in a haphazard manner under lock. "Occasional visitors walk by these artifacts, thus they are left unattended," he said.
He also shared that the paintings and artifacts in the museum are in dilapidated condition, while as most of the boards, which are supposed to display ancient pictures, have been thrown in the corner. "Outside some rooms, the visitors are requested not to touch paintings, photographs, sculptures or any other art work, but on entering the room, one can only see dust and broken panes," he claimed.
He said that the museum also lacks basic facilities, including proper lighting, water and adequate staff to clean the museum and keep the artifacts at proper place. "The museum as of now has three staff members including one gallery guard, the supervisor and a watchman," he said.
Meanwhile, experts dealing with art and culture maintained that the Governor NN Vohra had said that all possible sources should be tapped so that the functioning of the Kala Kendra meets its aims and objectives.
"The Governor had asked the Commissioner, Culture and Tourism, to take measures for securing the required amounts of water and power supply at the Kala Kendra Complex, besides undertake the beautification of its lawns," experts wishing anonymity said and added that the Governor had emphasised the need for developing the Kala Kendra, as a centre for preserving, conserving and showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the state by putting in place required infrastructure and logistics.
However, Commissioner Secretary to Government Tourism & Culture Department, Shailendra Kumar said that he had to ask his subordinates whether they have any claim over the Kala Kendra.
When asked about the responsibility endowed to Tourism and Culture department by the governor NN Vohra for maintenance, Commissioner Secretary said that he has no knowledge of any such development.
Despite repeated attempts MoS for Information, Education and Culture-Priya Sethi could not be contacted.