Implementation of scheme for restoration of heritage sites
Secretary Culture conveys displeasure to all concerned
JAMMU, Mar 2: The implementation of scheme for revival, restoration, preparation and maintenance of heritage sites is not up to the mark in several districts of the Jammu province even after the release of sufficient funds by the Directorate of Archives, Archaeology and Museums to the executing agencies through the concerned Deputy Commissioners.
As several historic monuments in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir are battling for their existence and identity, the Government in the month of July 2021 prepared scheme for revival, restoration, preservation and maintenance of architecture and heritage and the same also received the approval of the Administrative Council.
The objectives of the scheme are to identify the sacred places and heritage sites requiring intervention; to carry out their revival, restoration and renovation; to ensure protection and longevity of these places and to promote restoration wherever damage has occurred to these places.
In the first phase of the scheme 18 heritage sites in the districts of Jammu, Kathua, Ramban, Reasi, Samba and Udhampur were taken up for restoration work and it was decided that such sites in the Doda, Kishtwar, Rajouri and Poonch will be taken up in the second phase.
Accordingly, an amount of Rs 14.38 crore was released to the Deputy Commissioners of these six districts of Jammu province for carrying out of restoration work through Roads and Buildings Department. However, the physical progress has remained poor in most of these districts for the reasons best known to the executing agency.
As per the physical status as on January 31, 2023, only 30% progress has been made in respect of Gurdwara Sundar Singh Jammu while as work has yet not been started for repair/ renovation of Jaffer Chak Masjid and Sumah Temple at Akhnoor respectively.
In Ramban district, only 10% progress has been made on restoration of Ghoda Gali at Gool while as progress has remained dismal in respect of all the four sites in Reasi, two sites in Samba and four sites in Udhampur district.
The sites which have been selected for restoration in Reasi district are Salal Fort at Batal Gala, Barood Khana near Salal Fort, Bhim Garh Fort and bathing ghat at Dera Baba Ji Shrine. The heritage sites being funded for restoration in Samba district are Bamuchak Temple and Mahoregarh Fort while as in Udhampur district such sites are Krimchi Fort, Jaganu Fort, Charai Muttal and Ladden Kotli Fort.
Kathua is the only district where significant progress has been made in the restoration of selected heritage sites and this can be gauged from the fact that 50% work has been completed on Jaggannath Temple near Jasrota Fort and Jasmergarh Fort at Jandi in Hiranagar tehsil. The work on other two sites namely Thein Fort and Hanuman Temple near Jasrota Fort has also picked up the pace.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that Secretary, Culture Department, Dr Syed Abid Rasheed Shah, in a recent meeting with concerned officers, expressed displeasure over dismal performance in the implementation of scheme in most of the districts of Jammu province.
“He explicitly told the executing agency to ensure that pace of work is geared up on all the sites as early as possible so that objectives behind the scheme are achieved within the fixed timeline”, sources informed, adding “since the weather has improved in almost all the districts of Jammu province the Secretary wants expeditious execution of repair and restoration works”.
Sources further said, “the concerned Deputy Commissioners should regularly review progress in the implementation of scheme as funds have been released to them by the Directorate of Archives, Archeology and Museums”, adding “moreover, the executing agency should complete the procedural formalities as early as possible so that men and material are mobilized for early start of work”.
Not only the super structure of the identified heritage sites need restoration, landscaping, water and power connections and construction of toilet complexes are the other works which are required to be carried out as such the scheme can be implemented only with the proper coordination of all the concerned agencies, sources said.