Theft of Antique monuments : Review and Remedies
NOTE ABOUT ASI (Archeological Survey of India)
Archeological Survey of India (ASI), whose primary aim is the maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance, is responsible for the upkeep of around 3,678 monuments in the country.
1) Ancient Monument
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 and includes—
1. Remains of an ancient monument,
2. Site of an ancient monument,
3. Such portion of land adjoining the site of an ancient monument as may be required for fencing or covering in or otherwise preserving such monument, a
4. The means of access to, and convenient inspection of, an ancient monument;
2) Archaeological site and remains
1. Such portion of land adjoining the area as may be required for fencing or covering in or otherwise preserving it, and
2. The means of access to, and convenient inspection of the area;
The official figures (2006 data- ministry had reported of 35 missing cases ) of missing monuments by the Ministry of Culture have been found 2.5 times lesser than the figures of the CAG.
The audit carried out by CAG was also accompanied by ASI officials.
|Rank||State||Monuments / Sites missing||Names of important monuments/sites missing|
|1||Bihar||11||Ancient Building at Amavey in Ballia & the ‘Queens Palace’ in the old fort known as Killa at Bihar Sharif in Nalanda|
|2||Uttar Pradesh||9||Closed Cemetery, Katra Naka, Banda, Three Tombs on Lucknow-Faizabad Road, Imambara Amin-uddaula in Lucknow, Gunner Burkill’s Tomb at Rangaon in Lalitpur and remains of a large temple at Ram Nagar in Chitrakoot|
LIST OF IMPORTANT MONUMENTS/SITES GONE MISSING
Bara Khamba Cemetery, Inchla Wali Gumti in village Mubarakpur, Kotla and Tomb with three domes near Nizamuddin railway station in Delhi; Kos Minars at Shahbad and Mujessar in Haryana; Old European Tomb in Pune; Temple Baran, Inscription Nagar Tonk in Rajasthan.
|Sr. No.||Circle/Area||Missing Momuments|
|1||Agra Circle, ASI - 7||
1) Site of Aonla railway station, Bareilly 2) Tomb of Lt. Col. John Guthrie, in mud fort, Farrukhabad 3) Ancient sculpture, carving, images, bas relics, inscriptions, stones and like objects, Mathura 4) Portion of Katra Mound which are not in the possession of Nazul Tenants on which formerly stood a temple of Keshav Dev which was dismantled and the site utilized for the mosque of Aurangzeb, Mathura 5) Monument of Kila Chandpur fort, Bijnor 6) Monument near Kila railway station, Hathras 7) Old British cemetery, Bijnor
|2||Aurangabad Circle, ASI — 5||1) Jarasangh Nagri at Jorve, Ahmednagar 2) Stone Circle at Arsoda, Gadchiroli 3) Group of 20 Cromlechs or Kistvaens at Chamorshi, Gadchiroli 4) Stone Circle at Nildho 5) Stone Circle at Takalghat, Nagpur|
|3||Hyderabad circle, ASI — 8||1) Ancient Buddhist remains and Brahmi inscriptions on the mound, 2) Sculptures, carvings, images or other like objects 3) Hills of Nagarjunakonda with the ancient remains 4) Sculptures, carvings, images on the ancient mound 5) Sculptures, carvings, images other
like objects found in the vicinity of the mosque 6) Large Dolmen 7) Mounds- Dibba no. 1 to 5 8) Mound, Nagulavaram
|4||Kolkata circle, ASI —7||1) A Mound and a statue of surya 2) A Mound with a Jain statue 3) Image of Durga slaying Mahishasura under a tree 4) Temple site now represented only by a mound 5) A mound with an image of Nandi on it 6) A mound with statues of Ganesh and Nandi on it 7) Ruins of fort Nadia, West Bengal|
PROBLEMS REPORTED BY ASI AND MINISTRY OF CULTURE
- No funds allotted in the last 3 years to revive the monuments
- Lack of manpower. (need of 20,000 people while ASI has 2000 people)
- Less contribution from the civil society in protecting sites
- The lands on which these monuments reside do not belong to us. They belong to States. So no legal action can be taken by us even if we wanted.
- Unregulated development activity
- Lack of public participation
- Poor visitor experience
- No fresh policy required to revive and protect the monuments traced. Once they are located, they will be protected as per the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958
- Many of the reported missing monuments cannot be termed as such. The monuments have been inundated in water, eaten up by new construction but the site exists.
- Rapid urbanization is the root cause behind such incidents.
- We don’t have police powers. We can only point out the illegal encroachments but doesn’t have the power to prevent it.
SOME MORE PROBLEMS REPORTED BY CAG
- Poor maintenance of heritage places by ASI (it even includes Taj Mahal & Red Fort)
- Many cases of encroachment and unauthorized construction instead of heritage monuments
- Antiquities (An artifact surviving from the past) have been stolen. (131 from monuments and 37 from museums till 2012)
- Whatever has happened to these monuments has happened to ‘protected’ monuments. (Imagine the situation of unprotected ones)
- No security guards, no CCTV and no baggage checking were found at most places.
- Very less revenue was generated by the way of film production at these sites.
- Very less monuments were ticketed.
- ASI is unable to prevent unauthorized religious activities at the protected monuments
- Poor documentation of the monuments in terms of their details.
It envisaged creation of National Monuments Authority (NMA) under Ministry of Culture, Government of India.
- Statutory provision for the ‘prohibited’ and regulated areas.
- Complete ban on construction (including public projects) in the prohibited area.
- Providing statutory procedures for applications seeking permission for construction/repair/renovation.
- The authority shall make necessary scrutiny of the Heritage bye laws and accord approval after inviting objections/suggestions from the public
- Grading and classification of monuments.
NMA is a body of full-time chairperson, five full-time and five part-time members, having experience in the fields of archaeology, town and country planning, architecture, heritage and conservation.
- Creating awareness amongst the people and various stake holders on the need for conservation and preservation of the built heritage.
- Emphasis on mutual growth of the monument and the people, rather than purely regulation and control.
- Training and capacity building in the use of new technology for conservation and preservation of monuments at the level of CA and at ASI.
- Engage more intensively with the State Governments, in particular with their Urban Development and Local Urban Planning Departments as involvement of states in efforts for conservation and preservation is very important.
- Draft in the form of 15 articles also envisages expanding the definition of monuments to include industrial sites, cultural routes and rural heritage.
- New policy recognizes different ways of conserving buildings, including retrofitting and reconstruction.
- Carrying capacity of the each monument will also be measured and properly regulated.
- Policy also focuses on ancillary structures and not just the main monument.
- Policy advises against reconstructing damaged sculptures and inscriptions, but permits reconstructing of geometric patterns and interiors of heritage structures
- Communities traditionally helping to protect monuments would be encouraged.
Various articles and their importance described in the new National Conservation Policy for Monuments, Archeological Sites and Remains Protected by Archeological Survey of India are as follows:
|Sr. No.||Article Name||Importance|
|1||Definition and Context|
|3||Conservation of Monuments (Value based intervention)||Conserve the monuments according to their value|
|4||Conservation Principles||Various principles have been created to conserve|
Short-term (upto 2 years), Mid-term (2 – 5 years) and Long-term (5 years and above) monitoring and maintenance plans
|6||Role of Building Craftsmanship in Conservation||Indian craftsman be used in the conservation process which are well aware of the ancient Indian art.|
Capacity building has to be undertaken by professionals within organisations, such as ASI,& also with allied professionals, technicians, academicians, crafts persons, etc.,
|8||Promotional / Outreach Programmes||Various programmes that increase the importance of sites be arranged|
|9||Tourism and Visitor Management||Keep track & manage the crowd visiting the site|
|10||Illumination of a Monument||Monuments should be illuminated for the benefit of visitors and local communities|
Public Private Partnership in Heritage Conservation and Management
|Public Private Partnership (PPP) be used for conservation and management of sites.|
|12||Community Participation in Conservation||Local communities be made aware of the site present in their locality & arrange for their contribution|
|13||Access for the Differently-abled persons||Various facilities be developed at the sites so that even a physically challenged person can visit the site.|
|14||New Buildings/Interventions within a monument||New buildings/interventions be of historical importance & should be done with great care.|
Adequate and training be imparted on the side of officials & employees to tackle problems of any threat by disaster
VIEWS ABOUT THE NEW POLICY
New policy is just a minor change in the old ones. What actually needed is the radical & pragmatic approach to this. ASI is still stuck with old colonial policies and does not acknowledge the Indian ways of preserving. Now the reconstruction of the monument can’t be done based on architectural evidence but it will need archaeological evidence. Preserving and sustaining traditional ways of building is as important as preserving structures, and the new policy does not enable it. ASI protects monuments in isolation.
2) In Favour:
Some appreciate the fact that policy is taking into account issues of tourism, private-public partnership and facilities for the differently abled.
MAIN ISSUES IDENTIFIED
- ASI is a underfunded, under staff organization
- India is very rapidly developing urbanizing country. So it is very hard to stop this, and in the process of urbanization and development many small monuments come along the way which needs special efforts to protect.
- Lots of encroachments and people have occupied empty spaces and they start vandalizing it and through accretion it vanishes
- ASI has very less power
- Inspection is very fragile & is not according to some standard.
- Civil participation is very less even when it is our fundamental duty to protect monuments of national heritage.
Alam baka soni was the first to declare 25 monuments missing when she announced that list of Aurangabad circle, Bombay circle, Agra circle, Hyderabad circle & Kolkata circle. They were not covered in the new list. They cover 17 new circles. In her research she found out that German tomb has been converted into parking lots by traffic branch of Pune police.
Problems identified in her research
- In our country one of the problem is that heritage of another culture is not valuable.
- People don’t have any affinity to protect monuments
- People have dispute regarding the definition of heritage
- Most of ASI officers didn’t visited most of monument sites. There is no work culture in ASI.
- Guidelines of ASI have not changed from 80 years. The guideline drafted by John Marshel in 1924 is still considered as ideals.
- No feeling for up gradation in ASI.
1. ASI needs to be given more power.
2. Increase civil society participation & their awareness
3. Increase funding of ASI
4. Appoint more officials to look into the matter.
5. Security of the monuments be increased.
6. Proper area planning around the monuments/sites.
7. Proper inspection methods, management and resource creation (information about the monuments) should be made.