Delhi Archives still awaiting old records from government offices

“The process of acquiring government records began as Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is taking keen interest in the project.
Delhi Archives still awaiting old records from government offices

NEW DELHI:  Despite requests, several Delhi government departments are not handing over official records older than 25 years to the Delhi Archives, as mandated by the rules, which are to be digitised and preserved. The Archives, a repository of about 10 crore archival records, had urged all government departments around September to send their old documents— orders, circulars, and other papers-- so that the process for their preservation could be launched.

“The process of acquiring government records began as Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia is taking keen interest in the project. However, widespread apathy among officials is hampering the project. Several divisions such as revenue, home, education, general administration department (GAD), and public work department (PWD) haven’t transferred documents since the 1970s-80s,” ,” said an official, privy to the matter. “They are unmindful of the importance of the papers which are lying in corridors or a record room in pathetic condition. Even some of them have been burnt,” he said.

The officials added that ‘unavailability’ or pathetic conditions of the records leads to a lot of inconvenience to the general public and researchers. “People apply to seek certified copies but don’t get them. The departments should transfer their records after weeding out the less qualified or unwanted papers and files. They are treating their collection as trash,” said the official. Another government official said that the Archives had unsuccessfully tried to obtain the famous ‘Wilson Survey Report 1910-11’, a significant compilation of maps and drawings of Shahjahanabad, from the unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi. “Wilson survey report is an important piece of historical record.

It has beautiful and detailed maps of the Walled City. The Corporation has negatives of the report but it didn’t provide them,” said the official. Around 1910, a survey of the Walled City was conducted by AJ Wilson of Survey of India, which is known for its accuracy and scaling. The survey commonly referred to as Wilson Survey Report remained authorised reference for administration for years.

However, the officials of North Delhi Municipal Corporation said that they were not unaware about the status of the Wilson report. “About a decade ago, it was given to INTACH for research work and preservation of its portion. I don’t know whether it was retrieved or who possesses the report at present. The authorities should initiate the process to locate the magnificent document and efforts for its protection.

It is a crucial piece of information with regard to the transformation of the Walled city,” said an official of the civic body. The Archives has already scanned about 3.70 crore archival material –including photos and maps—including land records of 22 sub-registrar offices including oldest property registration divisions at Kashmere Gate.

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