Insignificant funds for monuments

A total amount of Rs.4.21 crore is all that stands allocated annually for conservation of as many as 124 State and centrally protected monuments in the heritage rich State of Jammu and Kashmir. Such a derisory funds allocation for the important but labour intensive and professional conservation work of these monuments, appears to be a joke and an apology for preserving and conserving efforts often hyped by the political leadership on selected socio- cultural occasions. Applying simple arithmetic on average basis method, it comes to a paltry amount of Rs. 3.40 lakh for each monument and that also for 12 months or Rs.28 thousands per month.Seems nothing short of the proverbial “a drop in the bucket”.
Many questions arise as to how the basic maintenance works could be executed. How could these declared protected monuments be in such a position so as to attract the younger generation, the students in particular, to acquaint themselves with the glorious heritage, the historical background and the peculiar art and workmanship of the contemporary period of their construction and how could the legacy be carried forward lest these monuments go into oblivion from the minds and the psyche of the people. Last but not the least, how could these monuments be turned into tourist spots to give a fillip to Statetourism.
It may look prosaic, if not very much ridiculous to arrange even removal of bushes and wild grass around these sites on periodic basis with these meagre funds. It shows how our successive StateGovernments have been found increasingly disinterested towards this sensitive area which,unfortunately does not have more voices raised for its survival and which is not “blessed” with lovers of history and culture going to the extent of protest demonstrations, dharnas, submission of communiqués and memoranda so that due attention of the Governments could be attracted towards these monuments standing in twilight of the merciless time. Usual requests in the ordinary course towards enhancing of the funds allocations, it is learnt, have been falling on deaf ears. Competitive politics of unproductive, unfruitful and inefficacious nature indulged in by the Governments perhaps, have claimed much of their other priorities like the one under discussion. Otherwise, majority of our forts, statues , sculptures, old palaces, ancient religious places and shrines would have not been in such a neglected State as we very often helplessly see them in all the three regions of the State.
How could State Archaeology Department and Archaeological Survey of India focus on these heritage sites with virtually no funds which lays open the way for their continuous decay and plunder as well. The State is having 124 protected monuments out of which 55 fall in the domain of Directorate of Archives, Archaeology and Museum of the State Government while 69 are under the control of Archaeological Survey of India, a wing of the Union Ministry of Culture. These monuments are, as on date, glaring instances of neglect which can be rued but what is sadly watched is the total absence of the concern shown by the intellectual members of the society to raise their voices for these monuments which could have a lot of impact on the otherwise insensitivities of the State Government. Only proper and reasonably adequate funds base and proper monitoring could not only save these rich signs and symbols of our rich cultural and historical legacy but turn them into tourist spots as well with a little infrastructural base and elementary facilities needed by visiting people . What is needed is a changed mindset coupled with innovative programmes and initiatives to result in a proper process of protecting and conserving these protected monuments.