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Maharashtra museum to get better security, go solar

CCTV cameras will be set up in the state museums

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To protect around 40,000 artifacts, which includes rare paintings, sculptures, coins, terracotta figures and finds from excavation sites, the state directorate of archeology and museums is stepping up security in its museums.

It is also looking at lighting up its 13 museums with solar energy to tide over power cuts in rural Maharashtra and reduce its electricity bills.

Tejas Garge, director, Directorate of Archeology and Museums, said they had beefed up security in these museums and approved the setup of high-resolution CCTV systems. Five museums, namely Nagpur, Aundh, Sindhkhedraja and the two at Kolhapur, will be covered in the first phase at a Rs 4.35 crore cost with work on the project being started after Diwali. The work on other museums will be taken up in subsequent phases.

The state has 13 museums at Nagpur, Sindkhedraja, Mahur, Ter, Aurangabad, two in Kolhapur, Sangli, Aundh (Satara district), Nashik, Thiba Palace (Ratnagiri), Paithan and Satara.

In December 2014, an 85-kg cannon at the Sindkhedraja museum in Buldhana, which is housed in the palace of Raje Lakhujirao Jadhav, the father of Rajmata Jijabai and the grandfather of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, was stolen. However, it was recovered later. Garge said they were strengthening security and surveillance measures in the museums after the incident.

Sources said that the directorate was hamstrung by lack of adequate government funding with just Rs 5 crore being allocated for the upkeep of museums, which affected implementation of security measures.

"We are planning to generate solar power for our museums to tide over power cuts caused by load-shedding. This will be launched with the Nagpur museum," said Garge. Most museums are in smaller towns where power cuts are common.

"The work order has been issued to the Maharashtra Energy Development Agency (MEDA) and will be completed this financial year. Next year, around five more museums, namely, Aundh, Satara, Ter and the two at Kolhapur, will be powered through solar energy. It will also control power bills," added Garge.

While the Aurangabad museum has a collection of sculptures, the Shri Bhawani museum at Aundh, built by local royal Balasaheb Pant Pratinidhi has a huge collection of paintings including miniatures from various schools like Kangra and Jaipur.

The Ramlingappa Lamture Museum at Ter in Osmanabad has finds from the Ter excavation site, which dates back to the Satavahan-era and saw trade being conducted with the Romans and the museum at the Thiba palace in Ratnagiri will get replicas of ships used by Navies like those of the Marathas, Dutch, British, Portuguese and Siddhis. The Nagpur museum has paintings by Sawlaram Haldankar.

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