New Delhi, Nov. 24: A vanishing act has woken up the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to the need for better protection of historical monuments.
The ASI, in charge of protecting monuments and heritage sites, has discovered that 36 structures are missing across the country, prompting it to initiate plans for recruitment of 10,000 guards.
The ASI believes the monuments could have been demolished to make way for homes in residential areas homes or shops in commercial areas. In some places, they may have been razed when they came in the way of development projects.
Another reason, the ASI feels, is lack of awareness and concern among citizens. We came to know about the disappearance in the course of a survey of the monuments under our protection, said an ASI official.
At present, the ASI has only 3,463 guards to look after the 3,675 monuments under its fold. That leaves several of the sites unattended.
Around 200 monuments are unattended now. New hands will be recruited immediately. We have got strict instructions from the Prime Minister, said the official. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is in charge of the culture ministry, which oversees the ASI.
Delhi, the headquarters of the ASI, tops the missing list with 12 monuments untraceable. These include Moti Gate, Phool Chadar, Barakhamba Cemetery, Alipur Cemetery; Joga Bai Mound, Shamsi Tallab in Mehrauli (near the Qutub Minar) and Nicholson statue.
Uttar Pradesh, with eight missing monuments, is second on the list. Most of these monuments are spread over Lucknow, Banda, Hardoi and Jalaun. In Lucknow, the big monument lost is Imambara Amin-ud-Daula, besides many cemeteries. In other places, most of the lost sites are cemeteries.
In Jammu and Kashmirs Kathua district, the rock carvings of gods and goddesses of Sitala, Narada, Brahma and Devi riding a lion and Radha Krishna cant be found. A cave temple there is also said to have been lost.
Haryana has lost the Mughal Kos Minar in Faridabad and Kurukshetra.
In Rajasthan, an inscription on the Nagar Fort in Tonk and a 12th Century temple in Baran cannot be traced.
In Karnataka, a pre-historic site in Mysore is missing, while in Gujarat an ancient site in Sejakpur in Surendranagar is untraceable.