CUTTACK: The State’s first Maritime Museum will see the light of the day by September-end if things go as planned. The 138-year-old Jobra navigation workshop, testimony to the maritime glory and prosperity of the region, is being converted into a maritime museum.
While Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik laid the foundation stone for the project in 2007, Intach’s conservation wing - Indian Council for Conservation Institutes - signed an MoU with the State Government in 2008 to execute the work in three years.
Mallika Mitra, chief conservator and centre coordinator of INTACH, said 65 per cent of the restoration works of the workshop building have been completed. “The interiors of the galleries have been done up and currently, efforts are being made to equip the galleries,” she said.
Mallika said the construction of a library, a research centre focusing on the maritime and engineering tradition of the State and an auditorium for audio-visual presentation has also been completed and interior works in these are underway.
The museum is coming up over 6.5 acres of land in the navigation workshop and an interpretation centre, open air theatre along with water sports facilities in the Mahanadi are also part of the museum project to attract tourists.
The museum will exhibit letters, photographs, drawings and a large collection of artefacts, including lanterns used for navigation in the British era. The maritime museum would have three galleries to showcase Odisha’s maritime activities, especially during the British era. The galleries would have instruments and machines used for navigation, prototypes of used equipment and the third gallery would be dedicated to highlight the boat-making techniques.
“Many of the artefacts were there in the Jobra workshop and some have been sourced from places having naval bases in the country,” Mallika said.
The State Government has sanctioned Rs 8 crore for the project which has been utilised and an additional Rs 2.73 crore is required. “We have sent the details of expenditure and additional fund requirement to the State Government and are expecting the approval in two weeks,” Mallika said. Once the funds arrive, Intach would complete the project by September-end, she added.
Naveen has recently visited the museum to review the progress of the project.
Cuttack was the focal point of maritime activities during the British rule. British engineers had set up Jobra workshop in 1869 and made Cuttack the hub of irrigation and inland waterways in the region.