150 years of ASI

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is understaffed: they don’t have enough people to protect sites under their care nor enough people for underwater archaeology. They don’t have the power to protect sites like the Megalithic site near Thrissur. But then you got to work with the ASI you got and not the ASI you want. That ASI is completing 150 years and on this occasion, Frontline has a politically correct interview with the Director-General (he refuses to comment on Ayodhya, Sethusamudram).

Let me tell you that the ASI is a highly understaffed organisation. The government is aware of the problem and is making its best efforts to strengthen the ASI by providing additional manpower. Whatever may be the extent of additional manpower, such problems cannot be tackled by government initiatives alone. Unless civil society comes forward to defend our heritage, there is very little hope for our monuments. I am not saying this in order to evade our responsibility. Monuments in remote areas are guarded by one attendant. In many cases, the nationally protected monuments do not have the minimum requirement of attendants. So by the time the communication reaches the authorities, the damage is already done.As I said earlier, the ASI must put in its best efforts to stop these. But civil society and people in the neighbourhood too should take proactive steps on these matters. The ASI or the State governments cannot really make much progress on their own[Custodian of heritage]

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