[Answered] Discuss the reasons behind the poor state of monument conservation. Also, suggest some measures for improvement in monument conservation mechanisms in India.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Write some reasons behind the poor state of monument conservation. Also, suggest some measures for improvement in monument conservation mechanisms in India.Conclusion: Write a way forward.

The history of India’s monuments and heritage sites are as old as the development of Indus Valley civilization. It is important to understand the need to preserve and protect the monuments.  The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation. Recently, the CAG’s performance audit on Preservation and Conservation of Monuments and Antiquities revealed Anang Tal as being “in the last stage of disappearance”.

Reasons behind the poor state of monument conservation:

  • There is no national policy on archaeological exploration and excavation. The same is possibly true for antiquities. There is no database or inventory in its possession.
  • The ASI budget for exploration and excavations is less than 1 percent of the total budget.
  • There is no synergy between the different agencies involved in heritage conservation. By minimising the security net around monuments — a move that would endanger them — the government could make the exercise of creating heritage by-laws in their present form redundant.
  • ASI, in many cases, has been working in violation of the provisions of the Monuments (AMASR) Act. At Humayun’s tomb, a CAG inspection revealed commercial construction being undertaken in the prohibited area.
  • The poor state of conservation at ASI-protected sites and the lack of follow-up.

Measures for improvement:

  • There should be Centralised management for rule-based procedures, before granting authorisation for archaeological research.
  • There should be adequate funding for conservation projects and maintenance.
  • The ASI needs to enhance the use of modern scientific technology, build capacity of its officials to ensure better conservation of monuments.
  • MOUs and bilateral agreements with other countries and international organisations to prevent illegal trafficking. E.g India can sign the 1995 UNIDROIT (International Institute for the Unification of Private Law) Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects.
  • Involvement of private organisations and individuals in protection, monitoring and inspection of cultural sites.
  • The Culture Ministry should take immediate steps to resolve manpower shortages especially in the crucial departments engaged in conservation related works.

Monuments and old buildings must be preserved because they are the symbol of a nation’s rich history and past. A serious and focused development plan and programmes may develop a closer engagement with our history through these monuments.

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