Delhi is going to witness India’s first digitised archival records website by next month. The Delhi government has chalked out for the public a portal about the journey covered by the historic city since 1803. The archive has been digitised over the past 16 months, which will be launched by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Sanjay Garg, nodal officer of digitisation and microfilming of archival records, told The Sunday Guardian that the process of digitisation used would be the first to be found in the country with a unique scale of work. The plan also includes digitisation of a good number of government orders, rare photographs and manuscripts. “As on date we have digitised approximately 1.5 crore pages of the record and out of which almost 50 lakh have been uploaded on the software. Such digitisation is taking place for the first time in the country, and the scale of work will not be found anywhere else in India,” he said, adding that the public will be able to access the record through the web portal. Garg further said the move was inaugurated on 31 August 2007 by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. “We have to complete 4 crore pages within 30 months which is the first phase of this initiative. The estimated number of pages is approximately 10 crore but the government has sanctioned only 4 crore pages in the first phase. The remaining pages will be digitised in the upcoming phases,” he stated. In addition, the Delhi government has decided to record the history of the city in the voices of about 200 people. The official said there will be audios and videos as well. “Also, we will be launching a new project which will be called the ‘Oral History programme’ under which we have to record memoirs of eminent people as well as of the ‘Aam Aadmi’ (common people) within two years. The department will launch the project on 14 January,” Garg added. The oral history programme was initiated in the 1980s but later it was held down. “Now it has been revived. The archival records will be updated on a day to day basis but ultimately we have to upload 4 crore pages in the period of 30 months,” he stated.
The digitised records would help the public to look for the annals of their ancestral properties as well. Being one of the biggest archives in India, it is coming at a cost of Rs 24.5 crore. The government is using German technology for taking the responsibility for the making of the programme. “We are using the overhead scanner for scanning the old records as we have the records of more than 200 years and the papers are very sophisticated and sensitive. Therefore, we have to be cautious in handling that. We are not only looking at the scanning, we are also converting the record into the microfilm,” Garg told this newspaper. Individual sessions of historians, bureaucrats, authors, politicians, farmers and traders will be recorded which will range from 40-60 minutes. “The microfilm has the life of over 500 years and if you lose the original one, then the microfilm is also acceptable in the court of law,” Garg informed.
People can look for the records of various freedom fighters, property registration records, conviction records of Tihar and Central jail, several maps and gazettes from 1870 to 1990. The archive will also include information regarding the revolt of 1857, trail of the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, rare pictures of historical buildings and old heritage.