EXPRESS RTI: It aims at restoration of 1,050 feature films and 960 shorts; digitisation of 1,050 features and 1,200 shorts, construction of vaults of international standards, and training programmes.
When the National Film Heritage Mission (NFHM) was rolled out in November 2014 with the Union Cabinet approving Rs 597.41 crore, the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) in Pune was selected as the implementing agency. The scheme’s objective is preservation and restoration of India’s celluloid film heritage, the work to be undertaken from 2014-15 to 2020-21. It aims at restoration of 1,050 feature films and 960 shorts; digitisation of 1,050 features and 1,200 shorts, construction of vaults of international standards, and training programmes. Of the total allocation, Rs 291 crore is to be spent during the 12th Plan and Rs 306.41 crore during 13th. In the last three years, NFAI has received Rs 21.16 crore under NFHM. Half these funds went into settling an old liability that NFAI owed to a subsidiary of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, according to accounts accessed by The Indian Express under the Right to Information Act. The firm had been contracted for digitisation and restoration of films before NFHM was rolled out.
NFAI paid Reliance Media Works Limited Rs 10 crore in December 2014 to clear the “outstanding liability” after it received an approval for this from the I&B Ministry. In April 2015, Rs 2 lakh was additionally paid; this “cleared the liability totally”.
NFAI officials said that under the earlier project for digitisation and restoration, which was executed during the 11th Plan (2007-12), 566 films were digitised, including 329 that were restored. Bills for this work, submitted by Reliance Media Works between March 2011 and March 2012, and accessed by The Indian Express, were for Rs 38.71 crore.
“[The Rs 10.02 crore] was an outstanding amount, which could not be paid due to budget constraints during the 11th Five Year Plan,” said Prakash Magdum, NFAI director. “In fact, this was a kind of pilot project of digitisation in which some of the finest films from India were digitised, thereby making them accessible to cinema lovers. The objectives of NFHM were envisaged based on learnings from this project.”
NFAI spent Rs 3.80 crore on civil works, which included renovation and refurbishing of NFAI auditorium, installation of three new DCP projectors, modification of the director’s office, electrical works, renovation of toilets, construction of temporary sheds and parking area, thermal insulation of service blocks, and new workstations for staff. And Rs 3.25 crore was spent on purchase of new computers, storage equipment as well as on publicity including social media management.
Another Rs 3.77 crore was spent on payment to KPMG India, which won the contract for the consultancy firm for NFHM, and Prasad Labs that bagged the contract for condition assessment of the films with NFAI.
Besides, Rs 24 lakh and Rs 8 lakh were spent on buying film publicity material from hobbyists and domestic travel respectively. NFAI pays collectors of non-film material such as posters, stills, song booklets, press clippings at photos at various rates, ranging from Rs 100 per item belonging to contemporary times (since 1991) to Rs 1,000 per item belonging to the silent era.
On spending NFHM funds on civil works at NFAI, Makhdum said, “In order to fulfil objectives of NFHM, there is necessity for creating infrastructure environment which can be done in the government through major and minor works, which has changed the overall organisation setup and helped bringing it to modern, technology, equipped and state of art archive setup. Also enabling it to come closer to people at large.”
Fourteen years since, the firefighting system at none of NFAI’s 27 vaults is functional. A decision to change the old firefighting system, installed in 1994, was taken in 2008; work started in 2015 and is still on.
ON January 8, 2003, fire broke out in a nitrate vault of the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) on the Film and Television Institute of India campus. In an hour and a half, all reels in the vault were reduced to ashes. Going by a statement by then MoS (I&B) Ravi Shankar Prasad in Rajya Sabha that February, NFAI lost 607 films in 5,097 reels in the fire. These included a number of pre-1950 films, including silent films from the early era of the Indian film industry, some of these by Dadasaheb Phalke and V Shantaram. NFAI asserted that most of the films destroyed had already been copied on acetate base, also called safety base since it’s less inflammable, hence the loss wasn’t as “grim as it was made out to be”. In addition to these classics, 544 reels that stored war footage in Italian, English, German and Russian were unique prints, not copied on any medium, and therefore lost from NFAI’s collection.
A high-level inquiry followed, seeking to fix responsibility and assess the safety system and suggest measures to avoid any repeat. Although the report of the inquiry was never made public, various media (including The Indian Express) reported, based on source-based information, that the committee blamed “sparks emanating from a faulty air-conditioner” in the nitrate vault and recommended that the material be transferred to freshly built vaults on NFAI’s Kothrud campus.
Fourteen years since, the firefighting system at none of NFAI’s 27 vaults is functional. A decision to change the old firefighting system, installed in 1994, was taken in 2008; work started in 2015 and is still on. The air-conditioning systems, too, break down frequently and sometimes take months for repair, according to those responsible for maintaining these systems. A picture published by Maharashtra Times in April shows pedestal fans being used to maintain the temperature in a vault, apparently due to the failure of air-conditioning.
The Principal Director Audit, Mumbai, conducted an inspection of NFAI between December 2013 and April 2015. As per its report, accessed by The Indian Express under the Right To Information Act, NFAI didn’t have enough firefighting provisions and “loss of this property (films and non-filimc material) can’t be ruled out in case of incident of fire”.”
“The films and other filmic materal acquired by NFAI were stored in temperature controlled film vaults. It’s very inflammable articles. However, during visit, of this premises it was found that there was not sufficient provision for firefighting system and not proper backup provision of valuable articles (Films). Due to non-availability of sufficient firefighting system in the premises loss of this property can not be ruled out in case of fire…,” the report states in part II(A), paragraph 2.
As per the report, when the audit team pointed this out to the NFAI administration, it was told the new firefighting system would be installed at the earliest with the work already taken up under the 12th Plan allocation for ‘upgradation of infrastructure’. “… In reply, the department accepted the fact and stated that the existing firefighting equipment installed in the film vaults is very old and is due for replacement… The work has been entrusted to CCW (E), All India Radio and same would be completed as early as possible. [The officials] further stated that regarding backup of filmic materials, guidelines from the competent authority will be obtained and action in this regard will be intimated to audit,” reads the report.
With firefighting and alarm systems yet to become functional, eight nitrate vaults and 16 safety base vaults at phase II and three underground vaults at phase I of NFAI continue to operate under the threat of fire. Asked about this, NFAI director Prakash Magdum said the work is in the “last stage of completion” and will be over within a month. “NFAI had the fire alarm system in place since 1994 along with Halon Gas fire fighting system. Eventually, Halon Gas system needed replacement with modern fire fighting system. The work is being undertaken by Civil Construction Wing (CCW) of AIR. For the first time, we are taking steps to install carbon dioxide flooding system which will be much more effective. The work at phase II is in last stage of completion and will be over within a month. This will ensure the safety of film collection including Nitrate and safety base vaults at NFAI,” said Magdum.
I B Mishra, executive engineer with CCW (Electrical), AIR, said the reason for the delay in completing work was that although the project was slated to start in 2008, funds were released only in August 2014. “The work could only start in the beginning of 2015 after release of funds. Also, since this is a very complex and specialised job with lots of designing involved, it’s progressing slowly. Nevertheless, we have in the testing phase for safety base vaults at Phase I and will commission them in one or two months. Following this we will move to other vaults,” Mishra said.
He said the air-conditioning system breaks down often because it’s operated day and night due to specific needs of NFAI. “Air Conditioning equipment were installed in 2007-08 in Phase II and aren’t very old. However, they are run 24×7 which leads to wear and tear resulting in breakdowns and need of maintenance,” Mishra said.
EXPRESS RTI: The documents show, additionally, that NFAI got to know of the dispute just a month after the premises had been sealed in 2010 as the owner had approached court.
Tapan Sinha’s Arohi (1964) was in the first lot of celluloid films that reached National Film Archive of India (NFAI) for preservation, soon after it was set up in Pune in February 1964. Arohi, which released the same year as Satyajit Ray’s Charulata, won the Silver Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival and Diploma of Merit at the London Film Festival, besides the President’s silver medal for best feature film and best story award at the National Film Awards. It was the National Film Award Committee that had sent the “release print” to NFAI.
For the last 10 years, the print has been in a now sealed building in Mumbai, out of NFAI’s reach. Arohi is one of nine “important, unique celluloid film prints” that had been sent to Kine Sixteen Lab in 2007, only to be locked up in 2010 following a dispute between the “conductor of the lab business” and the owner of the property, according to documents accessed by The Indian Express and replies received to questions under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The prints had been sent for duplication as they had become “smelly and shrunk”.
The documents show, additionally, that NFAI got to know of the dispute just a month after the premises had been sealed in 2010 as the owner had approached court. Yet NFAI officials have failed to get the custody of the prints even today — it is yet to file an intervention application in the civil court where the battle over the lab property is still on.
The celluloid prints locked in the property include another Tapan Sinha film, Atithi (1965), which was nominated for four awards including the Golden Lion and Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival. The other prints include Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Anupama (1966).
Arangetram (1973) by Dadasaheb Phalke Award winner K Balachander marked Kamal Haasan’s debut in an adult role. Uthama Puthiran (1940) was the first Tamil film featuring an actor in a double role; it is also remembered for German technicians in the crew. Another Tamil film locked up is Ponni (1953) by A S A Sami and C S Rao. Bagha Jatin (1958) by Hiranmoy Sen portrays the life of the revolutionary freedom fighter of that name, while Veer Rajputani (1955) was directed by Jamshed “J B H” Wadia, pioneer of the action genre in Indian cinema. One film is listed as Dholak but the documents accessed do not give specifics; IMDb lists a rarely seen (just 5 votes) 1951 film of that name directed by R K Shorey, written by I S Johar and featuring Ajit.
Files read by The Indian Express show that NFAI had been sending deteriorating prints to Kine Sixteen Lab, located on the Jyoti Studio campus on Grant Road, Mumbai, for several years. It also sent celluloid raw stock, worth lakhs of rupees, for duplication of those prints. In 2007, NFAI sent 16 films including the nine that are now locked up; the rest have been returned.
NFAI director Prakash Magdum told The Indian Express that of the nine films locked inside the lab, copies of five films were in NFAI’s possession in one format or the other as per records available. On the other hand, in all its communications with the law and justice ministry, police and its lawyer, as well as in internal notes accessed by The Indian Express, NFAI has maintained that eight of the nine prints were “unique single copies”.
With work pending after the prints were sent, three years passed before NFAI officials sent an official to collect the originals and the raw stock. “It’s noticed that your landline is disconnected and you are ignoring calls on mobile which [we] find very disgusting as a business person,” NFAI film preservation officer Kiran Dhiwar wrote to Kine Sixteen “proprietor” Shyamala Ramani on April 21, 2010. “Now, we are deputing our representative to collect our film material sent for laboratory work time to time and the completed work of the subjects as per our pending orders.”
It was after this visit that NFAI officials realised that the lab had shut and been locked months earlier; that “Mrs Shyamala Ramani”, whom NFAI had addressed as “proprietor”, was “conductor of the business”; that litigation was pending between Ramani and Homsi Homi Mistry, the owner of the business as well as the premises. The laboratory was sealed after Mistry allegedly took “forcible possession” without allowing Ramani to take out her valuable articles, which included the film prints and raw celluloid stock worth Rs 35 lakh.
NFAI contacted Mistry’s lawyer requesting her to allow them to inspect the premises and take custody of the prints. According to documents, the lawyer turned down the request and asked NFAI officials to approach Gomdevi police station. The senior police inspector at Gomdevi allegedly refused to let NFAI officials in, citing the fact that the matter was pending, and asked them to approach the civil court for permission, the documents show.
Over a year more passed before NFAI officials wrote to the Union law ministry requesting it to appoint a lawyer for arguing NFAI’s case through an intervention application. Five years after that, NFAI hasn’t yet approached the court with its plea. NFAI officials said they are doing their best to get the possession of the reels.
“Kindly understand that this matter is almost 8-9 years old,” said Magdum, the NFAI director. “Initially help from police department was sought. As soon as I came to know about this matter, NFAI has initiated legal proceedings as per government process. The government counsel has been appointed in order to take up this case in the court of law for recovery of said material and we are actively pursuing the matter so that the films can be brought back.”
Advocate Vinod Joshi was engaged by the law ministry’s Department of Legal Affairs in September 2012 to represent NFAI. Till today, however, no case has been filed, documents show. “I would not comment about the matter until there are written orders to do so from the [legal affairs] department,” Joshi said, when contacted.
EXPRESS RTI: While National Film Archive of India (NFAI) claims to have 1.3 lakh film reels in its vaults, a private firm found in 2012 that as many as 51,500 film cans that were on record were “physically not present at NFAI”. When asked about this NFAI official conceded, for the first time, that 28,400 film reels were “disposed off” in the past.
IN 2010, the National Film Archive of India (NFAI) got a Pune-based private firm to paste barcodes on every reel in its custody. In 2012, Cameo Digital Systems Pvt Ltd completed the project and submitted a set of reports to the NFAI along with a “summary of inventory”.
The Indian Express accessed these reports under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and came across two startling findings:
51,500 cans of film reels, and over 9,200 prints, “were not physically present” at the archives.
4,922 cans containing 1,112 film titles, which are not listed in the NFAI’s registers, were present in its vaults.
The reports include a “missing” list of hundreds of culturally and historically important titles, including celluloid prints of films by Satyajit Ray (Pather Panchali, its sequel Aparajito, Charulata), Mehboob Khan (Mother India), Raj Kapoor (Mera Naam Joker, Awaara), Mrinal Sen (Bhuvan Shome), Guru Dutt (Kaagaz ke Phool) and several other giants of Indian cinema.
Prints of several international acquisitions were also missing, including films by Sergei Eisenstein (Battleship Potemkin), Vittorio De Sica (Bicycle Thieves aka The Bicycle Thief), Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai), Roman Polanski (Knife in the Water) and Andrzej Wajda (Ashes and Diamonds).
The list includes prints of over a hundred silent films from Indian and international cinema (Battleship Potemkin is one) and celluloid containing historic footage, including from the pre-Independence days.
They include prints of visits by foreign dignitaries and Indian leaders’ visits abroad in the first three decades after independence. Among the missing footage are those of Mahatma Gandhi’s visit to Paris, the Indian National Congress’s Karachi congregation, and US President Richard Nixon’s address during his visit to India 1969.
On the other hand, films that were present in the NFAI’s vaults but not in its records included Mughal-e-Azam (2 reels), Bicycle Thieves, Pakeezah (8 reels), Aparajito (2 reels), Pather Panchali (4 reels), Meghe Dhaka Tara (1), The Great Dictator (13 reels), Ardh Satya (14 reels), Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam (10 reels), and Hunterwali (1 reel), with a few of these also listed among those with prints missing.
An official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the NFAI had multiple copies of some of the missing films, and that the 51,500 missing cans may also include the 1,500 reels that were destroyed in a fire in 2003. The NFAI claims to have about 1.3 lakh film reels in its custody, containing 20,576 titles, which includes Indian as well as foreign films.
Contacted by The Indian Express, Prakash Magdum, director of NFAI, blamed poor record-keeping and shortage of staff for the “mismatch” in the Cameo reports. Magdum also confirmed that the institution had scrapped 28,401 reels in the past, in the first such admission by the NFAI.
One of the Cameo reports, submitted by the firm’s director Purab Gujar, describes how this mess was brought to light.
Titled ‘Go-live of the system in general and summary of inventory in specific’, the report states: “While doing the bar-coding exercise and creating data for the Libsys system we followed the below procedure: 1) Before commencing the bar-coding, we scanned all the ‘Physical Film Registers’ of NFAI and created a spreadsheet of all the entries. 2) During bar-coding, we made a separate record of all the films for which barcode pasting was carried out over the period of nine months. In this record, we mainly captured the accession numbers of each titles, the number of cans and the location of the title.”
The firm then compared the two databases to find that a chunk of films listed in the accession registers were not present at the NFAI storage facilities. Of the 9,283 missing titles, 1,439 were acquired by paying the cost of the print while 7,844 were loaned to the NFAI by various agencies, production houses or individuals, laboratories, as deposit or long-term loan for storage and preservation.
The sources of these prints include government agencies such as the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, External Affairs Ministry, Films Division, National Film Development Corporation; foreign missions in India like that of Germany, Australia, UK, Albania, and France; foreign film archives such as National Film Archive, London, Rumanian Film Archive, Russian Film Archive, Bulgarian Film Archive; and, film producers.
Among the films deposited by production houses were those made by Vinod Chopra Films (Lage Raho Munnabhai, Eklavya) and Wadia Movietone, Bombay (53 films, including Hunterwali ki Beti, Bambaiwali and Phauladi Mukka).
Asked about the Cameo findings, NFAI director Magdum said, “As per available records, 28,401 reels were disposed of in 1995 and 2008. The same has not been struck off the NFAI records. According to old staff at NFAI, similar disposal of films were carried out during the time of P K Nair (former director) for which no record is available. Further, there seems to be duplicate accession numbers given to similar titles for a large number of films (about 400) which underwent treatment during the 1980s.”
When it was pointed out that the number of films “physically not present at NFAI” was much higher than those disposed of, Magdum said that the counting by Cameo was in terms of cans whereas the records maintained at NFAI were in terms of reels. “This, I believe, is bound to show a mismatch in the final figures,” said Magdum.
When contacted, Cameo chief Gujar said, “The exercise was carried out several years ago. The true picture about the number of films present with NFAI will only emerge after an ongoing film assessment project is over.”
NFAI records accessed by The Indian Express also show that the situation at the institute’s library, which boasts of over 29,000 books on cinema, is not very different.
Stock verification reports reveal that 1,761 books have gone missing over the years. Of these, the loss of 1,509 books was discovered during a physical verification out in 2002. Another inspection, which ended in June 2017, revealed that 252 more books had gone missing.
One report states that a major chunk of the missing “books” was “ready reference resources” which “can’t be called books” and were “mistakenly registered” as such.
The records also include an audit report which states that the library had not carried out “physical verification” for 15 years in violation of General Financial Rules, according to which stock verification has to be done once in three years. Also missing from the NFAI are 401 DVDs.
(A copy of the Cameo report as recieved from NFAI can be found below.)
These reels are “not in runnable condition” now, states the report — in other words, they cannot even be put through a film projector. Of the 17,595 film reels found stored in gunny bags in November 2015, when the inspection that led to this report was conducted, only 2,645 were found to be in “runnable condition
For most of the promo, their eyes are covered with strips of film as they talk about the immortality of cinema, and the need to preserve celluloid. The message delivered by the actors is clear — so is the irony behind the scene.
This three-minute film was produced by the National Film Archive of India two years ago to promote the National Film Heritage Mission, a Rs 597-crore preservation, conservation and restoration programme launched by the government in 2014. But in reality, the blindfolds could well have been on the eyes of the NFAI itself.
An internal “condition report”, accessed by The Indian Express and replies received to requests made under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, details the mess:
More than 1,100 films, contained in 14,950 reels, including rare and precious pieces of Indian and international cinema, are rotting inside 1,202 gunny bags on the second and third floors of a building inside the NFAI’s Pune campus.
According to Magdum, these films were received from the “Railway’s lost property offices”, and were of poor quality and condition. (Source: Express photo) These reels are “not in runnable condition” now, states the report — in other words, they cannot even be put through a film projector.
Of the 17,595 film reels found stored in gunny bags in November 2015, when the inspection that led to this report was conducted, only 2,645 were found to be in “runnable condition”. But even these remained in gunny bags for several months more before being moved to customised racks under controlled atmospheres.
That’s not all.
On February 21 and 22, 2016, records show, these reels in gunny bags were shifted to a private single-storey warehouse in Chakan, about 40 km from the NFAI campus in Kothrud, without temperature control, little ventilation and leaking roofs. This was done just days before experts from India and abroad, and senior officials of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, visited the NFAI for a workshop on film preservation and restoration from February 26 that year.
According to the documents, NFAI’s administrative officer D K Sharma signed an “Octroi Certificate” to ensure that the “consignment” was not charged during transfer — the certificate valued the consignment at Rs 1 lakh. The bags were transported back to the NFAI campus two weeks after the workshop ended on March 6, records show.
The bags were transported back to the NFAI campus two weeks after the workshop ended on March 6, records show. (Source: Express photo) “The level of neglect is such that although the reels have been with NFAI for several years, there is no proper record of the titles of these films. There is a possibility that rare ‘gems’ of Indian and world cinema could be lying there, possibly ruined by now,” said an NFAI official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Film Archive, NFAI, National Film Archive of India, cinema Archive, Indian films, Indian movies, Reel preservation, According to the official, these film reels include documentaries produced by the Films Division, copies deposited with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) by producers and handed over to NFAI for preservation, orphaned reels of Indian and foreign films found in the parcel offices of Railways, and films seized by the Customs Department.
The NFAI was set up in 1964 as a media unit of the I&B Ministry to acquire and preserve cinematic heritage, including film and non-film material.
The NFAI was set up in 1964 as a media unit of the I&B Ministry to acquire and preserve cinematic heritage, including film and non-film material. (Source: Express photo) When contacted, Prakash Magdum, director, NFAI, said, “These film reels were assessed, segregated and securely packed after rigorous in-house assessment activity of nearly three months in 2015. The titles thus have been identified, with multiple copies, in some cases almost 10 to 12 copies of a film. The material in good condition has been identified and put in plastic cans and stored. The damaged/decomposed material is packed in gunny bags for further necessary action such as disposing of decomposed content, which may otherwise affect the good material. Even such decomposed material is also housed in temperature-controlled conditions.”
According to Magdum, these films were received from the “Railway’s lost property offices”, and were of poor quality and condition.
However, while replying to an RTI query from The Indian Express in September 2016, the NFAI had said that it had received only 3,000 reels containing 308 film titles, including multiple copies, in the form of lost property from the Railways.
Documents reviewed by The Indian Express under RTI also show that the High Level Committee (HLC) on the National Film Heritage Mission, headed by the Secretary, I&B Ministry, held five meetings since June 2015 — but did not discuss the films in gunny bags at the NFAI even once.
The 10-member committee comprises the heads of the Film and Television Institute of India and the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, experts such as filmmakers Jahnu Barua and Rajiv Mehrotra, and senior government officials.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Barua said, “This matter never came up for discussion in the meetings so far. I’m not aware of these films. But I hope that they will be preserved as part of the heritage mission.”
It’s not just films — decaying in piles of scrap are posters, film scripts, stills, song booklets, pamphlets, and press clippings deposited with NFAI.
According to the internal report, the gunny bags have been dumped in the Service Block in phase II of the NFAI premises, which also houses over 1 lakh film stills, thousands of wall posters, nearly 2 lakh press clippings, thousands of pamphlets, film scripts and other ancillary material. Most of these were received from various libraries and individual collectors.
The inspection found that most of the paper material was tied in bundles, with layers of dust gathered over the years. Many were decomposed or got brittle due to years of neglect. Most of the press clippings were rendered illegible and had become extremely fragile.
Film Archive, NFAI, National Film Archive of India, cinema Archive, Indian films, Indian movies, Reel preservation, Apart from being a testimony to India’s cinematic past, the film publicity material and archival clippings came to the NFAI at a cost — Rs 100 to Rs 1,000 per item depending on archival value. Documents show that in the last 14 months alone, the NFAI spent Rs 28 lakh on buying film publicity material from individual collectors.
Magdum said the NFAI started the practice of storing publicity material in acid-free boxes and folders in 2015 but did not provide specific numbers.
“The non-filmic material has not decomposed due to any neglect on the part of the organisation but every care has been taken to ensure prolonging of its life. Generally, the material becomes brittle or decomposition happens because of the age of the material. Many a times, the material received is in poor condition. However, NFAI has undertaken digitisation of this content in order to preserve the same in other medium and ensure its access to the general public and researchers at large through various modes,” said Magdum.
Asked about the reels being shifted to a warehouse last year, Magdum said the material was shifted as infrastructural work was being undertaken at the NFAI premises.
“In order to keep this material in temperature-controlled environment, the necessary infrastructure had to be created at Phase II premises. As NFAI initiated the process in August-September 2015, of installation of thermocol insulation and installation of air-conditioning and de-humidifiers equipment as a part of creation of infrastructure, it was necessary to move out the content temporarily to some other location, as NFAI did not have sufficient storage space. Once the infrastructure was created, the material was immediately brought back to NFAI to keep it in temperature-controlled environment,” he said.
The director did not elaborate on why the films were moved in February-March 2016 but said that “such a practice of keeping the material outside NFAI premises for short-term storage was prevalent in the past, too”.