8 years on, SPS Museum incomplete
Nearly eight years have passed, but the construction work of Shri Pratap Singh (SPS) Museum in Srinagar is yet to be completed despite missing two deadlines so far.
The old SPS Museum was founded in 1898. In 2008, then Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad laid the foundation stone of the new building.
The construction project was handed over to the Police Housing Corporation (PHC) and was scheduled to be completed in two years’ time.
Even though the government had directed the agency to complete the construction of the building within the given time of two years, the PHC had missed the deadline twice in the last seven years.
The new building is located adjacent to the old museum building at Lal Mandi in Srinagar on the banks of the Jhelum with a surface area of 1 lakh square feet.
It is being built at an estimated cost of over Rs 65 crore, of which Rs 30.74 crore is meant for civil works and Rs 35 crore for its interiors.
Officials in the Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums said the building was ready, but the interiors were yet to be completed.
The building comprises four floors. “The structure is complete and only the delicate work inside remains to be done,” said an official.
In October this year, Priya Sethi, Minister of State for Information, Education and Culture, visited the site. She directed officials to speed up construction of the building housing 85,000 historic artifacts.
Officials had said last month that so far only Rs 15 crore had been released of the estimated cost of Rs 35 crore for interior designing.
Experts were of the belief that the project was handed over to an executing agency that was not a specialist in building museums, which led to the delay in its completion.
“The museum is one of the invaluable assets of Kashmir. Decades ago it was well taken care of as European visitors to Kashmir made it a point to visit the museum,” said a Valley based expert.
“This is an important institution about the history of Kashmir, especially the Dogra period. Work is still going on at a snail’s pace and has been given to an agency not specialising in building museums,” he said.
He said museum architecture was very different from normal work and only specialist construction agencies were able to give proper design to a museum.
“Another difficulty coming in the way of the project that has delayed the completion of work is the irregular flow of funds,” he added.
The officials in the Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums said the work was going on on a war footing and would be completed soon.
“Work is going on, but the date cannot be given when it will be complete. The construction of a museum is totally different,” said an official.
“It is technical and so it takes a bit of time. The civil work has been completed, but the interior work is still going on,” the official added.
The museum, set up by and named after Maharaja Shri Pratap Singh, is located outside the old Srinagar city in the suburban Lal Mandi area.