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[BKARTS] India: Library allowed private guards

Library allowed private guards

Jan 12, 2005


In the wake of the theft of the fifth century Buddha head from Indian
Museum, the Centre has given National Library the nod to revamp its security
arrangements with the help of private agencies.

"I got the clearance from New Delhi on Monday. We can now engage private
security agencies to revamp the surveillance system in the library proper,
as well as on the sprawling campus," said library director Sudhendu Mandal
on Tuesday.

"We will float tenders to engage private security agencies," he added.

The proposal to revamp security on the library premises by spending Rs 25
lakh had reached the Union department of culture in November. At present, 19
posts of guards are lying vacant in the library. The total sanctioned
strength of guards is 48, of which four are head guards.

Senior library officials said that it was really difficult to keep a vigil
on the 33-acre campus with only 29 guards, none of whom are armed.

Mandal said that after the Centre's clearance, the library authorities will
be able to engage 80 security guards from private agencies. Some of the
guards will carry sophisticated arms and will be deployed at the
newly-constructed Bhasha Bhavan.

Books on 11 Indian languages are being shifted to the building right now.

"Our own guards will assist the guards from the agencies in keeping a close
vigil on the library campus," he added.

The library authorities have plans to instal closed-circuit television sets
and metal detectors at the two entry points of the four-storeyed Bhasha

Since its inception in 1903, the library, then known as Imperial Library,
has made its own security arrangements. The library became National Library
in 1948 and was opened to the public in 1953.

The necessity to beef up library security was felt after the process of
shifting valuable books and documents to Bhasha Bhavan started last year.

Bhasha Bhavan has a floor area of 40,000 square metres, where about 2.5
million books and documents on Indian languages will be shifted in a phased
manner. About 300,000 books and documents have already been moved to the

"Transferring such a huge volume of books is a difficult task. The
possibility of loss or theft is very high. Naturally, we are planning to
tighten security in and around Bhasha Bhavan, as well as in the other
important departments," said a senior library official.

"There are 265 posts vacant in different departments of the library. We want
the vacancies to be filled and have already submitted a memorandum to Union
minister of culture Jaipal Reddy in this regard," claimed Saibal
Chakraborty, National Library Staff Association leader.


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