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ASI plans annual ‘health check’ of heritage sites

The Archaeology Survey of India (ASI) has drawn up an ambitious plan for their regular methodical conservation and upkeep, reports Parvez Sultan for The New Indian Express.

To make a difference, the agency will carry out an annual assessment of its 3,693 historical sites and structures including monuments and forts to ascertain restoration requirements. This is for the first time in decades; the Survey has planned a comprehensive scheme to improve efficacy of restoration and conservation interventions undertaken at various sites throughout the year but in silos.

Officials, privy to the matter, said that the proposal for yearly review of monuments is ready and modalities for its effective implementation are being worked upon. “This programme will help us to understand the exact condition of our cultural heritage sites or buildings in a better way and initiate efforts for their preservation not only for maintaining their charm but to prolong their lifespan. We have a budget however if more funds are required, it will be arranged accordingly,” said an official of ASI.

Under the present arrangement, an officer, who is incharge of a cluster of monuments (generally a conservation architect — CA), keeps inspecting the structures frequently and decides to take on repair or restoration projects. He also prepares an estimate for the same and gets it sanctioned from the concerned authority.

However, individual efforts sometimes lead to ordinary and shoddy jobs. The idea for regular yearly review and preservation work thereafter is welcome change because maintenance, which is a key intervention for protection of our cultural wealth, needs centralised support, added the official.

The ASI’s annual assessment plan, which is a brainchild of its director general V Vidyavathi, also aims to stress upon routine maintenance work, which is often not carried out due to various constraints; mainly misunderstanding the needs. This negligence ultimately results in deterioration of the protected sites and also causes extra financial burden on resources.

Speaking at an event recently, Union Culture & Tourism Minister G Kishan Reddy, made an announcement about an annual review and conservation programme being introduced by the Survey.

“Like an annual health checkup of a person is done, the ASI will carry out a yearly ‘health check’ of its heritage sites and structures. It is to review their condition and find out ways for protection and restoration work. It is our responsibility. This programme will be a regular annual feature. The Government is committed to preservation and promotion of our cultural heritage. It becomes important as next year, India will be hosting G-20 (intergovernmental forum) countries and many dignitaries and heads of countries will come. This will be an opportunity for promotion and publicity to boost tourism,” said Reddy. (Source: The New Indian Express)




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