NEW DELHI: The Conservation Laboratory of the National Museum, which has helped in conservation of precious cultural heritages like paintings on the ceilings of Rashtrapati Bhawan, has another momentous task at hand — restoration and preservation of the National Flag hoisted from the ramparts of Red Fort on August 16, 1947.
The historic tricolour had been kept at Army Battle Honours Mess (ABHM) in Chanakyapuri. The flag framed in a box covered with glass was handed over to the lab on Thursday. According to people privy to the matter, preliminary assessment suggests the flag is in good condition but requires antifungal and anti-insect treatment to enhance its lifespan.
"The flag was with a battalion however it had remained untraceable for about 45 years. We don’t have much information about the transfer of this national treasure (flag) to the Army. The authorities had been looking for an appropriate agency for its restoration for a long time. After a retired military officer suggested, they approached the National Museum to take up the task,” said an official.
Lt Cdr KV Singh in his book ‘The Indian Tricolour’ has also mentioned that the flag unfurled by Nehru at Red Fort was shifted to the ABHM. The tricolour in possession of the Archaeological Survey of India at Fort St George Museum in Chennai is known as the oldest surviving Indian national flag. It was hoisted at Fort St George in Chennai on August 15, 1947.
The tricolour was visited at 8 30 am at the Red Fort and the battalion 7 Sikh Light Infantry was incharged for the ceremony.
The officials said after the event, the flag was given to the battalion however it had remained untraceable for about 45 years.
"Presumably, it must have been in the custody of the former Delhi and Rajasthan Sub-Area Mess all these past years," read the book.
Lt Cdr Singh wrote in the book that when the issue was highlighted in 2002, it was discovered in the Officer's Mess headquarters Delhi Area in Delhi Cantonment.
Then the flag changed hands and finally reached the ABHM.
The flag being mended by the National Museum laboratory is made from cotton and its dimension is 12 feet by 8 feet. “It seems that the blue chakra in the middle is hand-painted. Textile division will check for any damages to the fabric after which we give it antifungal and anti-insect treatment. Its restoration assumes significance as the country is celebrating 75 years of independence,” said the official.