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50 Centrally Protected Monuments Untraceable, 11 in UP

The missing monuments include Barakhamba Cemetery in Delhi, two monuments in Haryana and 11 in Uttar Pradesh, which is the highest.
Barakhamba Monument at entrance of road to Nizamuddin auliya

Barakhamba Monument at entrance of road to Nizamuddin auliya. Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

Delhi: In a shocking revelation, the Union Ministry of Culture and the Archeological Survey of India have reported that about 50 of the country’s 3,678 centrally protected monuments cannot be traced on the ground.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has attributed their loss to either rapid urbanisation or problems tracing the monument sites because of their remoteness, The Tribune reported. The revelations were made by the Ministry of Culture and the ASI in a report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Culture. The report was presented before the Parliament this week. 

In its last report on the subject, the Comptroller and Auditor General noted that 92 monuments were missing. Parliament panel also asked the ASI to conduct a physical survey of all the monuments.

Following rap from the CAG, the ASI physically inspected 1,655 of the 3,678 centrally protected monument sites. After this exercise, the actual status of the monuments was established.

The missing monuments include Barakhamba Cemetery in the national capital, two monuments in Haryana and 11 in Uttar Pradesh, which is the highest.

“If even monuments in the Capital city cannot be maintained properly, it does not bode well for monuments in remote places in the country,” said the panel.

In the status report to the panel, the ASI stated that 42 of the 92 missing monuments flagged by the CAG had been located on the ground, but 24 of them were totally untraceable, as many as 14 were lost due to rapid urbanisation, and 12 submerged under dams or reservoirs.

The panel directed the government to maintain digital log books containing textual, photographic and video records of the state of physical preservation of all monuments and their exact location coordinates, the Tribune reported.

The panel pulled up the ministry for differentiating between the untraceable monuments and those lost to urbanisation and dams. “The distinction made by the ministry regarding the monuments lost to urbanisation/reservoirs and 24 monuments which are untraceable is an academic one since monuments lost to urbanisation/reservoirs are as irrecoverable as the ones which are at present untraceable with scant hope of being found in future. Moreover, the fact that the ASI had been unable to prevent the loss of the 14 monuments to urbanisation and 12 to reservoirs/dams and only located them after the study by the CAG suggested that the ASI had no cognisance of these monuments prior to the study. The number of monuments lost from public viewing must therefore be held to be 50 taking into account those lost to urbanisation or reservoirs,” said the Parliamentary Committee.

The panel’s status report says, “it is of paramount importance to ensure the protection of historical monuments across the country and the same is also reflected in Article 49 of the Constitution of India”. The constitutional provision states the “Protection of monuments and places and objects of national importance— It shall be the obligation of the State to protect every monument or place or object of artistic or historic interest, 1 [declared by or under law made by Parliament] to be of national importance, from spoliation, disfigurement, destruction, removal, disposal or export, as the case may be.”

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