A parliamentary panel has underlined that a large number of historical monuments are "not under any sort of protection" and asked about the procedure through which requests for restoration of "unprotected monuments" is made to the ASI.
It also asked how many such requests are pending before the central body.
The action taken report on recommendations or observations of the committee contained in its 340th Report on Demands for Grants (2023-24) of Ministry of Culture by the department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, was presented in the Rajya Sabha and laid on the table of the Lok Sabha on Thursday.
The panel has noted that under the head "Restoration of Unprotected Monuments - Minor Works", the culture ministry has been allocated Rs 2.5 crore in the 2023-24 Budget Estimate against a projected demand of Rs 5 crore to meet anticipated expenditure for restoration of unprotected monuments such as Badrinath.
"It is submitted in this connection that ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) undertakes restoration of unprotected monuments, subject to the overall criticality/importance of the monument and as per manpower availability with ASI. The budget allocation of Rs 2.5 crore for restoration of unprotected monuments is considered sufficient in respect of presently ongoing work at Badrinath temple," the ministry informed the panel.
The report said the committee wanted to know about the quantum of ongoing work at the Badrinath temple and the expected timeline of its completion. The panel would like to elicit the information regarding the expenditure made out of the total fund till date.
In its 294th Report on Development and Conservation of Museums and Archaeological sites - Challenges and Opportunities, the committee noted that in 2007, the National Mission on Monuments & Antiquities aimed to list 5,00,000 (five lakh) heritage buildings, it added.
"The committee notes that about 3,693 monuments fall under the protection of the central government while around 4,500 monuments are protected by the state/Union Territory governments. It is evident that a large number of valuable historical monuments are presently not under any sort of protection by the government," the panel said in the report.
The ministry informed the panel that the "ASI evaluates the proposal following due procedures and accordingly undertakes conservation/preservation of other than ASI heritage buildings".
The ASI was established in 1861 and currently operates through a number of circles across the country.
The panel further said it would like to "know the expenditure incurred by the Ministry on the restoration of unprotected monuments in the country by the ASI during the last three years, year-wise".
"The committee further desires to know the procedure through which request for restoration of unprotected monuments is made to ASI, and how many such requests are pending before the ASI, at present," it added.
In the report, the committee further said that it would like to "know the criteria governing the recognition of a monument that requires any kind of protection".
The committee also wants to know "how categorisation of monuments is being effected for its protection at central/state level".
On the panel's observation that the Rs 5 crore sought by the ASI for the restoration of unprotected monuments is in itself a "minor amount given the huge number of such monuments", the ministry has said, "As stated in the preceding ATN, ASI undertakes restoration of unprotected monuments subject to the overall criticality/importance of the monument and as per manpower availability with the ASI. Although the current allocation is considered to be sufficient, additional budget requirements as and when the need arises will be demanded from the Ministry of Culture."
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