Budget constraints hit SJM security, says CAG

The Salar Jung Museum (SJM) has a staff shortage of 23.5%, it did not acquire any new objects after 1992, and it did not upgrade its CCTV cameras due to budget constraints; these were some of the findings of the performance audit of the Comptroller and Auditor General of one of the country’s leading museums. The recently filed 2021 report sheds light on how the LDS has been affected, leading to a less than happy experience for visitors.

The SJM in Hyderabad is a unique museum which houses the collection acquired by one man – Salar Jung-III, who was the Prime Minister of the former Dominion of Nizam for a brief period.

Plan to improve

While the CAG report highlights the failings of the museum, in its report on measures taken by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture tabled in the Rajya Sabha, the Ministry of Culture has put in place a plan to improve the functioning of the museum.

Among the plans are higher ticket prices for special groups and timing. “Efforts will be made for voluntary donations and to offer special group tours before and after hours by charging higher entrance tickets,” the ministry said. The museum has renovated 24 out of 38 galleries and plans to complete the rest of the 14 galleries within the next 4 years.

“We were supposed to open the Gallery of Islamic Art and Culture in India to showcase valuable artworks and manuscripts, but the COVID pandemic interrupted our work. Getting workers to work continuously became a problem after the pandemic waned,” says SJM Director A. Nagender Reddy. “The specialized museum should be ready by the end of this exercise,” he informed. The museum has yet to return to pre-pandemic days, as weekend numbers have remained at 3,000 per day from 5,000 visitors before 2019.

SJM owns 46,216 works of art, 8,191 manuscripts and 69,225 books. Of 46,216 works of art, 16,606 were on display and 29,610 (64%) were kept in storage. As the CAG report commented on the art rotation policy, a museum staff member said, “We have 33% of objects on display. These are top notch attractions. If we remove these attractions and bring in items from the stash, it will do the museum a disservice. »

But the impact of budget cuts on the DLSU is apparent from the CAG’s remarks. “SJM was unable to upgrade its existing CCTV cameras as recommended by its security agency, the Central Industrial Security Force, due to budget constraints. Additionally, in the absence of policy or guidelines, LSU expenditures for preservation and conservation activities (including security system upgrade and digitization) ranged from 0.09 to 5.83 % of its total expenditure (budgeted average annual expenditure of ₹24.33 crore). ”

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