ASI chief launches efforts to resume conservation projects after pandemic pause – The New Indian Express
Express press service
NEW DELHI: Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) protected heritage sites across states are likely to witness frantic conservation efforts after two years apart as the agency – national watchdog for more than 3,600 historic structures, including monuments and forts – started an exercise to get restoration or preservation plans back on track. Several ongoing projects have come to a halt and many proposals have been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic outbreak in March 2020.
The Director General (DG) of Survey V Vidyavathi met with conservation project managers in the circles (sub-offices in the states) to understand the issues that are impediments. Senior officials familiar with the matter said that Vidyavathi was particularly focused on unspent funds allocated to various circles.
“A series of meetings of different departments are taking place to find out the conservation plans to be resumed during the next fiscal year. The DG has already had a meeting with Conservation Architects (CA), Superintendent Archaeologists (SA) and Engineers from all states in Delhi last week. Soon she will meet assistant archaeologists, SA assistants and others. One of the main problems is the budget allocated to the sub-offices, which is not completely exhausted and therefore returned. The DG is of the view that once a budget is allocated, it should actually be used for conservation and the creation of visitor facilities. Officials are giving a presentation on what they plan to do in this fiscal year,” an official said on condition of anonymity.
According to the Ministry of Culture, Rs 406.37 and Rs 435.60 were allocated for the conservation and maintenance of ASI heritage sites located in different states in 2018-19 and 2019-20 respectively and the agency succeeded almost exhausted its budget. He spent Rs 405.02 crore in 2018-19 and Rs 435.38 crore in 2019-20. The ASI budget in 2020-21 and 2021-22 dropped drastically to Rs 260.90 and Rs 270 crore at the Covid pandemic respectively. The expenditure in 2020-21 was Rs 260.83 crore and Rs 251.76 crore in 2021-22.
“Because of the Covid pandemic, projects are on hold. That was the concern. The DG sought to find out why conservation was at a standstill. We told him that due to the pandemic, the tender could not be launched and moreover, the workers were not available so all the works at the monuments had stopped,” an official said. , who attended the meeting with the DG.