| Assam governor J.B. Patnaik meets ASI officials at Raj Bhavan on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos |
June 6: Governor J.B. Patnaik today suggested opening a department of archaeology at Cotton College State University with help from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
The suggestion from Patnaik, who is also the chancellor of the university, hinted at the kind of course the state’s oldest higher educational institution should open after being upgraded to a state university recently.
The governor’s prod came at a meeting between senior ASI officials and senior officials of the state government, faculty members of Gauhati University (GU), Dibrugarh University and Cotton College at Raj Bhavan today.
The meeting was convened among allegations that the ASI was not paying enough attention towards the conservation and restoration of the state’s monuments.
ASI director general Gautam Sengupta, ASI’s superintending archaeologist S.S. Gupta, Dibrugarh University professor Dambarudhar Nath, GU’s anthropology head Rekha Das, GU’s history head I. S. Mumtaza, Cotton College’s history head Bhagaban Goswami, Cotton College’s anthropology head Jonali Devi, director of archaeology of Assam H. N. Dutta, commissioner and secretary at governor’s secretariat Ajay Tewari participated in the meeting.
They discussed the problems being faced by the state’s various ancient sites, including Umananda, North Brooke’s Gate, Joysagar tank, Sivasagar tank, maidams (burial grounds of Ahom kings) at Charaideu, dargah of Ajan Fakir, Bamuni Hills, Suryya Pahar, Kamakhya Temple, Bhubaneshwari Devi Temple, Kareng Ghar at Gargaon and Majuli islands.
“Patnaik said the nomination dossier of Majuli islands for its World Heritage Site tag had not yet been finalised and major excavations had not been started at a single ancient site in order to unravel the historical and cultural aspects of the past,” a Raj Bhavan official said.
In the meeting, Patnaik said no efforts had been made to increase the number of monuments of national importance in Assam and there was a lack of positive efforts in preserving Ahom monuments in Sivasagar and the monuments of Bamuni Hills in Sonitpur district.
Patnaik urged ASI officials to undertake joint inspections of all the historical sites with state officials and identify areas to be selected for conservation. He also asked them to complete the leftover work at various sites, including Charaideu and Bamuni Hills and extend technical support wherever and whenever necessary. The governor also told the ASI to open site-specific museums at feasible sites.
Patnaik asked the director general of ASI to take up the task of conserving important monuments to which he agreed.