NEW DELHI: The coronavirus pandemic has slowed down the Delhi government’s ambitious project—digitisation and microfilming of historical records such as images, manuscripts, maps and old government documents related to Mughal and British period.
According to the officials of Delhi Archives, the repository of four crore archival articles, suspension of the operation due to COVID-19 outbreak coupled with manpower issues had affected scanning and correction of digitised documents.
“Due to the restrictions and social distancing norms, the pace of digitisation has affected. Before the lockdown, more than 150 people were employed in the project. As we don’t have adequate space to accommodate more staff therefore only 30 of them have been working at present,” said Sanjay Kumar Garg, archivist and head of Delhi Archives.
Garg, however, said that so far 3.5 documents in Hindi, Urdu, English, Persian and other languages had been scanned and two crore of them are already uploaded on the portal, which is available free of cost to the researchers and history enthusiasts.
The Archives has a rich collection of rare papers and images of historical importance including original classified documents including trial proceedings of freedom fighters such as Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt and last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar.
Several royal orders — farmans and sanads — issued by Mughal ruler Shah Alam, papers of the 1857 mutiny, land acquisition records of New Delhi and establishment and expansion of railway and electricity department in Delhi are also part of the collection.
Oldest records at the Archives date to 1803.
“We provided internet connection, laptop or computers to the staff involved in the project however scanning work had come to a halt. The staff continued metadata related work of tallying from home but correction and cleaning work affected, which can’t be done from outside the office because one is required to refer to the original records for the same,” said Garg.
Despite issues caused by COVID-19 crisis, Garg is hopeful of completing the project early next year. “We will be able to wrap up scanning of all the documents by the end of this year. Metadata and cleaning is a huge task that takes time. This was a big project and we have been successfully doing the job. We will conclude it early next year,” he said.
Project first of its kind incontinent
The project, arguably the first of its kind in Asia, was launched by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in August 2017 for which a 30 months deadline was fixed.