The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Govt mulls shrine upkeep law

New Delhi, May 11: The Centre is thinking of an “exclusive legislation” for maintaining and managing the country’s historic shrines and religious centres, encouraged by the successful management of the Vaishno Devi temple through a trust.

Culture and tourism minister Jagmohan has called a meeting of state culture ministers on Tuesday to discuss the importance of such a legislation.

According to ministry sources, there is a general feeling that several old shrines and religious centres — which are important pilgrim and tourist spots — are in pathetic condition as these are not being properly maintained.

Jagmohan has already written to the chief ministers emphasising the need to enact a separate legislation for better upkeep of the historic religious centres.

The objective of the legislation, sources said, is to ensure proper use of the funds received by these shrines — visited by a large number of pilgrims — and make the management accountable for the expenditure.

The Centre is also keen on reorganising the Archaeological Survey of India by creating a separate all-India service for the maintenance of historic monuments and archaeologically crucial projects.

According to sources, the issue has already been broached with the personnel department; rules and regulations are now being formulated.

Under the all-India service, likely to be called Indian Archaeological Service, a class I officer would be posted in each district to ensure preservation and conservation of important monuments, the sources said.

As a first step, Jagmohan, they said, has called a meeting tomorrow to review archaeological projects across the country.

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