50 ASI-protected monuments disappear

In its recent submission in the Parliament, the Union Ministry of Culture said that 50 of India’s 3,693 centrally protected monuments have gone untraceable, which flagged a matter of grave concern. The report titled ‘Issues relating to Untraceable Monuments and Protection of Monuments in India’ was submitted to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture on December 8, according to the report published by The Indian Express.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was set up in 1869 to oversee archaeological excavations and conservation. According to officials who told IE, scores of protected monuments were taken under the ASI’s wings during the 1920s and 30s, up till the 50s.

After the independence, the functioning of ASI was clouded with lackluster approach of the successive governments which shifted more focus on health, education and infrastructure, rather than protecting heritage. According to the ASI officials, many monuments and heritage sites were gradually sunk in activities like encroachments, construction of dams and reservoirs, and fast urbanisation.

According to the ASI submission in Parliament, the rapid urbanisation has engulfed 14 monuments. As many as 12 monuments have been submerged by the constructions of reservoirs and dams, while 24 have gone missing.

As per the report, only 248 out of the 3,693 monuments are protected by security guards. Owing to budgetary constraints the government could afford to provide only 2,578 security personnel at 248 locations, the report said.

The missing monuments include: 11 in Uttar Pradesh, two each in Delhi and Haryana, and in states like Assam, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, reported IE.

Other missing monuments include: the Guns of Emperor Sher Shah, Tinsukia (Assam); the Ruins of Copper Temple, Paya, Lohit (Arunachal Pradesh); Kos Minar, Mujesar, Faridabad (Haryana); Kutumbari Temple, Dwarahat, Almora (Uttarakhand); Rock Inscription, Satna (Madhya Pradesh); Old European Tomb, Pune (Maharashtra); 12th Century Temple, Baran (Rajasthan); and Telia Nala Buddhist ruins, Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh).

The monuments which could not be traced on ground for a considerable time, despite several efforts of ASI, were referred to as untraceable monuments, said the Ministry.