Treasure trove of files vanishes from secretariat

Treasure trove of files vanishes from secretariat

Fifteen years of State Government history lost for all time

 Fifteen years of the government’s history between 1956 and 1972, which saw eight governments including that of Nijalingappa and B D Jatti, have been lost for ever. Hardly any document pertaining to major policy decisions that were of historical significance is available.

According to documents accessed by Deccan Herald, the State Archives Department has in its possession only 1,700 files of 2,02,050 files pertaining to the then governments.

The rest – more than 2 lakh files of 28 departments – were found destroyed. Curiously, these startling facts were kept under wraps all these years.

The State Archives Department has three categories of documents – A, B and C. One section comprises purely historical documents that need to be preserved forever. Categories B and C are to be preserved for 30 and 10 years, respectively. It is from sections B and C, documents of historical significance are selected and preserved as category A. Currently, the government has in its possession historical records ranging from 1799 to 1956.

Interestingly, the 1,700 missing files pertain to just six departments – Home, Energy, Law, Cooperation, Social Welfare and Forest.Not a single document of the crucial Revenue, Finance, Irrigation, Commerce and Industries and Housing departments of the said period is available.

Foul play

Sources in the State Secretariat said foul play was suspected in the disappearance of files. “It was a plan by the powerful land mafia to erase all original records of lands in the government. The land mafia gobbled up hundreds of acres of prime government land, especially in and around Bangalore, by destroying the files,” they pointed out.

According to the documents, the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR), which is authorised to decide which documents need to be preserved, in 2002 decided to dispose of irrelevant files from category B (from the general records section-GRS) that are more than 30 years old. It directed all departments to take back their files from the Archives Department to be sifted. They were also asked to hand over important files to the historical record section (HRS) of the Archives Department, even as disposing of others.

“Accordingly, the Archives Department handed over 2 lakh category B files to the respective departments, which recklessly destroyed all documents. The babus who sifted them had little knowledge of the historical significance of the files. So, they destroyed everything...We cannot provide you any document, if you want to study the education policy of the Nijalingappa Government,” HRS archivist Mahadevaswamy pointed out.

GRS archivist Mallikharjunaiah said the Archives Department was only the custodian of records. The authority to decide which records should be preserved or disposed of rests with the DPAR. But the data entry of all 2 lakh files has been done.

In fact, the then chief secretary, A Ravindra, in a circular dated September 28, 2002, had informed all departmental heads to take utmost care while sifting through records. “The system of selecting documents into category A has stopped long ago. So, all these category B files need to be examined carefully,” he stated in the circular.