50 ASI-protected monuments 'untraceable' across India including in Delhi, Haryana
In a shocking revelation, the Ministry of Culture informed the Parliament that up to 50 of India's 3,693 protected monuments are "untraceable." According to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), 14 of these monuments were destroyed by urbanization, 12 were flooded by reservoirs, and the remaining are "untraceable." Notably, 11 lost monuments belong to Uttar Pradesh, while two each are in Delhi and Haryana.
Why does this story matter?
- The issue of missing monuments was brought to light in 2013 by a report issued by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG). As a result, 92 ASI-listed historic monuments were reported missing, raising alarm.
- Since then, reports about 'missing statues' hogged the headlines. However, the ministry had failed to clarify and define what 'missing monuments' mean.
Culture Ministry's submission before Parliamentary Standing Committee
"It's a matter of grave concern that several monuments of national importance under the protection of ASI have become untraceable over the years," the ministry said in its submissions before the Parliamentary Standing Committee. Rapid urbanization, (being) submerged by reservoirs (and) dams, problems in tracing in distant places (and) dense woods, non-availability of their proper position, and other factors are cited in the application.
Missing monuments in UP, Delhi, Haryana, and other states
There are 11 missing monuments in Uttar Pradesh and two each in Delhi and Haryana. Monuments in Assam, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand were also placed on the list. According to the ASI, 14 of these monuments have been destroyed by fast urbanization, 12 have been drowned by reservoirs or dams, and the sites of the other 24 are unknown.
Some 'missing' cases pertain to inscriptions and tablets
Numerous 'missing' cases involve inscriptions and tablets that lack a permanent address. Officials told The Sunday Express that it could be impossible to find them since they might have been relocated or destroyed. They said that the majority of ASI-protected sites were discovered in the decades following Independence, specifically in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.
Parliamentary panel slams government
Out of the 92 monuments that CAG deemed missing in 2013, the Parliamentary Committee stated that "42 had been identified as a result of efforts made by the ASI." However, the remaining 50 monuments on the list are still difficult to find. The claim made by the government about the untraceable monuments lost to urbanization/reservoirs received harsh criticism from the panel.