The ASI periodically conducts nationwide surveys of protected monuments under its jurisdiction. The 92 “Centrally protected monuments” under the charge of the ASI went missing from their sites since 2013, according to the CAG report submitted to the Parliament.
However, out of the 92 missing monuments, 24 monuments remained “untraceable”, while 14 were affected due to rapid urbanisation and 12 submerged under reservoirs or dams, the Ministry of Culture told the Lok Sabha earlier this year, citing the CAG report.
More than half of the monuments which are “untraceable” are from Uttar Pradesh, followed by Delhi and Rajasthan.
Among the “untraceable” monuments are the Barakhamba Cemetery in Delhi, Telia Nala Buddhist ruins of Varanasi, a large ruined site of Sandi Khera in Uttar Pradesh, a 12th century temple from Rajasthan, the Old European Tomb in Pune, ruins of the Copper Temple in Arunachal Pradesh and many others.
The hills of Nagarjunakonda with ancient remains, a prehistoric site in Karnataka, Visveswara and other cave temples in Jammu and Kashmir, among others, have got submerged under reservoirs or dams, the Ministry of Culture told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.
According to sources in the ASI, the recent survey had been ordered by the Director General of the ASI in October to ascertain the exact number of missing monuments and the reasons for not being able to trace them, in the backdrop of the Ministry of Culture’s reply to the Lok Sabha.
The ASI has a total of 3,700 protected monuments under its jurisdiction, and they are supposed to be protected, preserved and conserved by the ASI through its different circles across the country.
However, ASI officials told The Sunday Guardian that the reason for the missing monuments is the lack of proper education, resources and manpower.
On the condition of anonymity, a senior ASI official told this newspaper, “Some monuments or sites go missing in the course of time and most of them are from the ancient Indian time period. Also, due to the lack of knowledge among the people working in the field, lack of manpower, and resources, we fail to protect monuments which are not so important. ”
According to the reply given by the Ministry of Culture to the Lok Sabha, the ASI has spent over Rs 3,000 crore in 2016-17 for the protection and conservation of monuments across the country.