No focus even on arranging trained manpower for task
JAMMU, Apr 9: The PDP-BJP Coalition Government’s concern for the rich heritage of the State has remained confined to the official statements only as meager funds are earmarked every year for the conservation of State Protected Monuments in all the three regions of Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover, no serious attention is being paid towards arranging trained manpower for the Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums despite the fact that preservation is a highly skilled task.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that during the period between 1986 and 2013 a total of 51 heritage sites were declared as State Protected Monuments by the Government for their conservation and restoration as per the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Ancient Monuments Preservation Act.
However, the objective behind this step could not be fully achieved as adequate funds were never kept at the disposal of the Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museum, which has the mandate to implement the provisions of J&K Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, sources said.
“The PDP-BJP Coalition Government, which often comes up with the statements mentioning that all required steps are being taken to ensure conservation/restoration of all these State Protected Monuments, is actually following the foot-steps of the previous dispensations as even during the past three years the Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums was not given sufficient funds for the task”, sources said.
While pointing towards the non-serious approach of the Government, sources said, “the annual budget of the Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums is around Rs 6 crore and this amount is required to be expended not only on the conservation/restoration of 51 State Protected Monuments but also on payment of salaries to the employees as well as meeting routine expenditure of the department”, adding “because of meager funds the department is finding it difficult to carry out even emergency restoration works”.
The intensity of difficulties being faced by the Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums in executing the mandated task can be gauged from the fact that no conservation work could be started on those heritage sites which were declared as State Protected Monuments in the year 2012-13, sources further informed.
Quoting some examples, they said that Chamba Statue at Sanku and Rock Sculpture of Matria Budha at Apati both in Kargil district were declared as State Protected Monuments vide SRO-261 dated March 16, 2012 and SRO-44 dated February 6, 2013 respectively as per the provisions of J&K Ancient Monuments Preservation Act but till date no restoration/conservation work could be started by the Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums for want of funds.
“It is due to lack of funds that department has not initiated steps for declaration of 142 heritage sites in Leh and Kargil as State Protected Monuments despite the fact that their identification and documentation was conducted in the year 2010 for their inclusion in the list of State Protected Monuments”, sources further informed.
What to talk of increasing budget of the department the Government has even failed to arrange trained manpower for the conservation/restoration works, which is a highly skilled work, sources said, adding “the engineering wing of the Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums is reeling under shortage of manpower as such restoration work is either getting delayed or is at slow pace at many State Protected Monuments”.
No doubt the department has prepared long term strategy for effective preservation, conservation of monuments in different parts of the State but constraints of funds have been creating hurdles in giving practical shape to the strategy, sources said, adding “for want of funds and manpower the department is facing difficulties even in ensuring proper security of the heritage sites even after their declaration as State Protected Monuments”.
They further said, “the non-serious approach of the Government is notwithstanding the fact that effective conservation of heritage resources not only helps in preserving and safeguarding the monuments but also in attracting tourists and subsequently boosting the local economy”.