Despite the Chandigarh administration issuing advisories to safeguard heritage items and make inventories of all the furniture lying in government buildings, the concerned departments have failed to follow them, said police.
A senior police officer said, “Accused air conditioner mechanic Harbhajan Singh has been stealing heritage items from the basement of the newly constructed building of the Punjab Finance and Planning Department for the last five to six months and there was no one to keep a check on him. He disclosed that he has even stolen some of the furniture items during daytime putting a question mark over the security of the building and heritage furniture items as well. When we visited the office of the Punjab Finance and Planning Department in Sector 33 and inspected the basement, in which heritage furniture items were lying, it was very difficult to identify the heritage items. The furniture was gathering dust in the basement and it was stored in an unsystematic manner.”
The Heritage Protection Cell of Chandigarh Administration, which was formed in January 2016, has repeatedly appealed to all government departments to secure the furniture designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret.
Advocate Ajay Jagga, a member of the cell, said, “The recent theft of heritage furniture items for a government building is alarming. We have been raising the point of security of heritage items for a long time. Recently, 14 furniture items stolen from various government buildings of Chandigarh were seized by the Customs department in Delhi. I rushed there and found that six of the furniture items were stolen from Panjab University (PU). The identification of other items is yet to be established. We will visit the Punjab finance and planning department building in Sector 33 shortly.”
It is not the first time that the theft of heritage furniture was reported in Chandigarh. In February 2016, four persons, including two women, were arrested for stealing furniture from the storeroom of the Government College of Arts. More than two dozen heritage furniture items were recovered from their possession. In October 2015, eight cushioned V-Chairs and two tables were stolen from the Le Corbusier Centre in Sector 19.