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For mapping heritage sites, Culture Ministry plans reaching out to Google

Banking on cutting-edge technology, the Ministry of Culture has envisioned a plan to digitally map boundaries of over 3,600 centrally-protected monuments for greater security and checking encroachment through enhanced monitoring of these sites.
Union Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy has said technology giant Google could help the government in doing this job, and talks between the Ministry and the search engine giant are being planned.
There are a total of 3,693 heritage sites in India protected under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) that falls within the purview of the ministry.
In continuation of the decade-long partnership between the Ministry of Culture and Google, a project named ‘India ki Udaan’ was unveiled at a glittering event at the Sunder Nursery here on Friday night to mark the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, which captures several milestones India has achieved in its journey of 75 years since Independence, as well as the legacy of iconic personalities.

The project executed by the Google Arts & Culture, celebrates the country’s achievements, and is “themed on the unwavering and undying spirit of India over these past 75 years”. It draws from rich archives and features artistic illustrations to tell the story of the country. In his address at the event, G Kishan Reddy also said Google could help the culture ministry in digital mapping the boundaries of its over 3,600 centrally-protected monuments that will help in better monitoring of sites and check any encroachment.

Google can also help in digitisation of rare archival material, he said. “Therefore, we urge Google team to be a partner in government’s transformative journey, as also promote India’s tourism destinations,” G Kishan Reddy said.

Later speaking to PTI on the sidelines of the event, the union culture minister said, “A lot of manpower is required in monitoring the sites. So, through technology we can easily map the sites for security purposes and to check encroachment”.

G Kishan Reddy said what the Ministry has envisioned is that through cutting-edge technology, these sites can be monitored from the headquarters in New Delhi.

“So, we can monitor every monument, and what is going on there, sitting in Delhi. That is what we want to do,” he said, adding, that “they are going to meet us, and we will discuss it in detail”.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is headquartered in Delhi, housed at the Dharohar Bhawan led by its director general, and has circles at regional levels, headed by a superintending archaeologist in each circle.
The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 1958, was amended in 2010 to declare the 100-metre radius of protected monuments as prohibited areas and the next 300-metre radius as regulated areas. The protection of the ASI sites are governed under this act. The union culture minister in a written response to a query in Lok Sabha on August 1 had said that the ASI maintains protected monuments through its Circles and “there is no provision to release funds to Non-Government Organisations (NGO)”.

“The ASI undertakes regular conservation and preservation of centrally-protected monuments, sites. For security, watch and ward is provided through multitasking staff (MTS) personnel, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and private security,” he had said.

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