By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Oct 22: Realizing the importance of preserving age-old documents like manuscripts, puthis, maps which are related to religion, culture, history and geography of Assam, the State government had taken up the ‘digitization of archive’ project few years back. The Archaeology Department of Assam, which is responsible for the preservation of old documents, has now decided to start the work of digitization of archive from December this year.
The process of digitization of archive involves reprography and microfilming through which old documents, manuscripts, puthis, maps and similar other valuable documents can be reproduced, restored and preserved. The main purpose of digitization of archive is to save these valuable and age-old documents from earthquake, floods and fire.
Through reprography and microfilming, documents are first scanned, bound and then restored in microfilms after their subject-wise classification.
While talking to The Sentinel, the Director of the Archaeology Department, said the Department would start the archive digitization work from December this year and would publically release the archives in May next year. “The system of archiving age-old documents through the digitization process is a costly affair and the annual funds we receive from the government for the very purpose is not sufficient. But still, we will start the project work within schedule,” he said, adding, “For the digitization of archive project, 75 per cent of the funds is given by the Central government and the rest 25 per cent is given by the State government.”
According to the Director of the Archaeology Department, the preservation of old documents is a must as Assam has many such valuable documents belonging to different areas and different periods, which are getting destroyed with the passage of time.
He said the xatras in Assam have several such valuable and old manuscripts and puthis which need to be preserved soon. “We have collected some manuscripts of religious and historical importance from the Aauniati Xatra in Majuli but many such manuscripts are kept in other xatras in Majuli and elsewhere in the State, which need to be preserved. Though we have started collecting such manuscripts from these xatras in Majuli, the collection work came to a halt due to recent floods. The xatras are the treasure trove of religious manuscripts and puthis available in the State,” he added.
The Archaeology Department Director, however, stated that local people often don’t allow the Archaeology Department to take possession of the religious manuscripts found in the xatras, ultimately hampering the preservation work.
“We will preserve around 100 Sanchi Paats and Tula Paats through microfilming,” he said, adding, “Some old maps made in 1773 to the present will also be preserved through the digitization of archive.”
He said the Department could not carry out the survey and documentation of the old manuscripts available in the State due to shortage of funds. He said the Archaeology Department of Assam is currently preserving about 3,000 old manuscripts, puthis and scripts.
He has also given stress on documentation and preservation of the works of late Assamese music legend Dr Bhupen Hazarika.