ACAP, staffers keeping eco-museum running

JOMSOM: Mustang district’s eco-museum at Jomsom is still alive due to the efforts of the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP). However, even though the museum is a centre of attraction for knowledge about the region, its people and the environment it lacks the staff needed for its conservation and management.

According to Buddhi Bahadur Gurung at the museum, “Here, we are only two staffers taking care of the museum. It is difficult to manage the whole museum. ACAP takes care of the museum but there is no involvement of the community in it.”

“ACAP wants to handover the museum to the community and give Rs 15 lakh as financial support but the community is reluctant,” said Gurung adding that it is six years since the museum was last updated. There is no one to do research for data collection.

“It is impossible to renovate the museum with the fund raised through the museum entry fee. The walls of the museum crumble every year during snowfall, and it is hard to rebuild them as we do not have enough fund,” Gurung said.

ACAP provides salary to the people appointed there. According to Gurung, he gets Rs 4900 per month while the museum incharge gets Rs 10,000 per month. neither find it possible to make both ends meet as the earnings from the museum are quite low. “We are lacking proper administration also,” Gurung said.

The eco-museum was established in 1992 with the support of National Japan Trust for Nature Conservation and has been under the management of ACAP since 1997.

The museum is mainly visited by international tourists. Entry charge for international tourists here is Rs 50 per head, tourists from SAARC region need to pay Rs 25 per head while Nepali tourists have to pay Rs 10 per head.

In 2008, the number of international tourists visiting the museum was 1493. Around 151 tourists from the SAARC countries vistied the museum are 151 while 798 Nepalese visited.

The main goal of the Jomsom eco-museum is to create awareness and help preserve cultural as well as natural heritage of Mustang through information dissemination and exhibits. The museum consists of socio-cultural and geographical sections, herbal medicine, library, flora and fauna, herbarium and a Buddhist monastery. The museum mainly has collection of cultural heritage of Upper and Lower Mustang.