The Indian govt. increased the number of monuments on its list under the ASI to safeguard them!!

Time Wheel, Sun temple of Konarak, Orissa,

 Indian monuments,
Maps of India com. 

Across India lies a vast and diverse pool of historical and cultural heritage, and ancient monuments running into thousands  that include places of worship - Hindu, Christian and Islam, historical forts, palaces, colonial buildings, bungalows, etc spanning several centuries. The sheer number of these historical heritage sites is just mind-boggling. They  are the epitome  of our past social, political and religious history, besides the  growth of our culture, ethos  and tradition.  They are as old as the development of the Indus Valley civilization, hence the  culture is  diverse  and the  history antiquated. .

According to the  ASI, ''Ancient Monument means any structure, erection or monument, or any tumulus or place of interment, or any cave, rock-sculpture, inscription or monolith which is of historical, archaeological or artistic interest and which has been in existence for not less than 100 years”.


Indian monuments.

Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), a Central govt. department, controls most of them and the state Archaeological department under respective state administration manages them along with the central agencies. Though  the ASI has several regulations and laws to protect the heritage sites and monuments, unfortunately, the rules are not followed in letter and spirit. In many places in the urban areas, buildings come up close to the monuments in violation of govt. regulation. In other places, security guard are not posted as a result,  the sites are not well barricaded and anti-social people, drug addicts and alcoholic.access them and cause damages to them. They do not care about the warning board erected in front of the sites. Part of the reason is no serious legal action is taken against the law breakers and trespassers. In the absence of severe punishments that would act as deterrents, the incidence of damaging or tampering with the old monuments goes unabated.  

Giving due attention to the preservation of countless monuments of grandeur and beauty for the posterity, in February 2020  the Central Government made a right decision to  increase the number of monuments to 10000.on its list, a move well received by heritage lovers.  The government will  also review those monuments under the  protection of the state.  The ASI, presently protects only  3,691 monuments nationwide. The Uttar Predesh state has the largest sites under the ASI. This information was given by the Union Minister for Culture Prahlad Singh Patel in the second week of February this year. 

In the last several years the list of centrally controlled monuments remained static. Only recently, the monuments across the country had been reviewed and  based on their cultural and historical value the list was increased manifold. It is said some monuments from the central list will be removed and transferred to the states for adequate protection. In Tamil Nadu alone there are 7000 temples many of which are pretty old and need protection because many of them have beautifully made stone sculptures and metal idols, besides jewelry. In TN, a large section of the people is not happy about the way the govt agency HR & CE runs the managements of historical temples and their vast properties.  Against the govt agency, there have been many cases of financial mismanagement, illegal sale of temple lands and thefts of antique idols and these disparaging  activities peaked during the DMK rule.  

The ASI has already enforced  the ban on construction within 100 metres radius of a Centrally protected monument and regulated construction within 100-200 metres under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. The Act protects monuments and sites that are over 100 years old. In addition to strict law enforcement, the state and Central governments should come up with social awareness programs on the importance of historical  sites and their preservation for the posterity so that they can pass it on to the next generation of people. 

Cleanliness drives in and around the monuments, adequate lighting, proper access roads,  proper security, periodic surveys, putting up strong barricades around the sites, stringent laws against law-breakers, proper documentation of the sites, voluntary contribution and adoption of monuments and heritages by  responsible private individuals or trusts   and above all, setting up a grievances cell for each monument will go a long way  and preserve our  heritage sites. Regarding already  neglected monuments or monuments that face real danger, steps should be takenon a war-footing to save them from total destruction.