THE UT Heritage Protection Cell has decided that before any department of the UT Administration sells or auctions scrap items, they should seek clearance from the heritage committee. This decision has been taken in view of the increasing auctions of UT heritage items abroad.
Finding that items were being moved out in the garb of scrap from government departments, member of Heritage Protection Cell Ajay Jagga had written to Heritage Protection Cell chairman Kapil Setia to ensure that all of UT’s scrap auctions should be subject to the committee clearance.
At the meeting held last week, it was resolved that all the departments of UT will have to adhere to these directions of taking clearance for the scrap auction from the heritage committee first.
“In fact, this was a matter of discussion in 2011 as well but departments would never send the case to us for approval. Now we have resolved that this be strictly adhered to and all such scrap items be subject to the committee’s clearance,” said a senior officer of the committee on condition of anonymity.
Jagga said, “Yes, this matter was discussed on priority in the meeting and a copy to all departments about this decision will be sent.”
Also, it was decided in the meeting that advance intimations to Indian missions abroad, where the auction is taking place, will be given.
It was also discussed in the meeting that all sold items should be subject to an invoice with the picture of the item being sold, so that the heritage items (procured by other means) should not be permitted to be sold against the invoice of the other products, so as to enhance the value of heritage items.
“Since in the international market, the value of the items and evidence is subject to its ownership/year of manufacture, so we must ensure that all auctions should be subject to certificate that no heritage is being auctioned,” Jagga had stated.
The UT Administration has failed to check the easy flow of heritage furniture items from Chandigarh to foreign markets.
The items that have been going under the hammer abroad included teak stools, coffee tables, executive desks, arm chairs, lounge chairs, book cases, manhole, and demountable bed. They belonged to UT’s administrative buildings, Panjab University and the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Last year, the UT Administration had directed all the departments to make an inventory of all heritage items with them. It was proposed to have a storage house where these items could be kept. But nothing was done after that.
In 2016, four persons, including a junk dealer, were held for theft of heritage chairs but even then, there has been no end to auctions. Investigations at that time had pointed out the involvement of a Mumbai person who had expressed his desire to purchase this furniture owing to its high value in foreign markets. However, nothing was done to establish the chain involved in the matter.