Heritage sites

Maharaja Gulab Singh founded Jammu and Kashmir State in 1846. As such, it is just 170 years old. Obviously, the Dogra rulers left behind a good deal of heritage fun of which a number of sites are still visible in different parts of the State in all the three regions. These sites have their importance in terms of history and culture. However, apart from that, we should know that the State has a long antiquity much of which historians recorded from time to time either in full length or in patches. Therefore, when we want to know of the cultural history of the State we shall have to trace the long course of the history of the entire region.
We know it fully that at one point of time in her long and chequered history, the boundaries of the Kashmir State under the Hindu rulers extended up to Kandahar to the west, and Yarkand and Kashghar to the north and the Sutluj to the south. This vast landmass is dotted with numerous heritage sites, which still reflect the history of the Kashmirian heritage. It is a different story that owing to the vagaries of human nature and vicissitudes of time many of these sites are in a dilapidated condition. No attempt was made seriously to repair and restore them to their original condition.
However, the Britishers during their rule over India were wonder struck by the huge and immensely valuable fund of heritage sites in India. As they were interested in preserving these sites, they established the department now called Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). This organization undertook preservation and protection of famous historical sites, monuments, structures, all over the country. Apart from the ASI, we have also the State Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums, which cooperates with the ASI in the task of preserving and protecting heritage sites.  Some times back, the ASI brought few concerns to the notice of the State Government aiming at improving the relations between the State Department of Archaeology and the ASI in order to make conservation of heritage sites, monuments etc. more effective. The State Government responded to these observations and the PDP-BJP Coalition Government formed a State Level Coordination Committee to go into the matter and submit a report that thrashed out all the concerns and suggestive corrective measures. The Chief Minister gave clear and unambiguous instructions that the Committee should submit its report at an early date. Actually, the decision was taken by the State Government based on a communication from the Union Ministry of Culture sent in February 2015. Some of the issues that needed to be thrashed out were incorporation of monuments in the Master Plan and Site Management Plan. The Committee was also required to look into the issues of encroachments, lack of approach road, model monuments and cleanliness around the monuments besides ensuring provision of public amenities at appropriate places etc. These are only some of the terms of reference. The Chief Minister had made it clear that the heritage sites would be conserved and that his Government was seriously interested in contributing to the conservation of state’s heritage wealth.
Notwithstanding all the cooperation from the Government, the regrettable thing is that four months have passed when the committee was constituted and so far, not a single meeting of the committee has been held. The matters have not moved a step forward. The simple inference one can derive from this situation is that the Committee is not interested in contributing to the task assigned to it. It is true that we can take a horse to the river but we cannot make it drink water. If the Committee members are not interested in undertaking the task assigned to it that is fine. They should inform the Government and distance themselves from the function, which they are expected to perform. Leaving things in limbo does not help. It only confirms that the ASI has genuine grievances, which it wants to be resolved. What justification can the Committee give for not holding a single meeting?


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