Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Archaeological Survey of India will ‘Delist’ some ‘Lost’ monuments. What’s happening, and why?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Art and Culture; Heritage Monuments in News;

Mains level: Art and Culture; Conservation of Historical Monuments; ASI;

Why in the news?

Recently, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has decided to delist 18 “centrally protected monuments” because according to them, they lag in National Importance.


What does the “Delisting” of monuments mean?

  • Delisting means that the monument will no longer be protected, conserved, or maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).  Once delisted, the restrictions on construction-related activities around the monument are lifted. 
  • Legal Mandate: Section 35 of the AMASR Act outlines the process for delisting monuments. It empowers the Central Government to declare, via official notification, that a monument no longer holds national importance, thereby removing its protected status.

Delisted Monuments: Kos Minar No.13 at Mujessar village in Haryana, Barakhamba Cemetery in Delhi, Gunner Burkill’s tomb in Jhansi district, a cemetery at Gaughat in Lucknow, and the Telia Nala Buddhist ruins in Varanasi.

Challenges for the Archaeological Survey of India due to “untraceable” monument:

    • Survival issue: Some monuments, especially smaller or lesser-known ones, have been lost over time due to various factors such as urbanization, encroachments, neglect, and construction activities like dams and reservoirs.  
  • Among the 50 missing monuments, 14 had been lost to rapid urbanization, 12 were submerged by reservoirs or dams, and the remaining 24 were untraceable. 
  • Difficulty in Locating Monuments:  This could be due to factors like inadequate documentation, lack of historical records, changes in the landscape, or complete disappearance of the structure.
  • Issue with Preservation and Conservation:  Without knowing the monument’s location, it cannot be regularly inspected, assessed for its condition, or protected from encroachments or other forms of damage.
    • Despite the recognized need for 7,000 security personnel, only 2,578 were deployed due to financial limitations.
  • Therefore, ASI faces challenges in fulfilling this responsibility effectively, especially when dealing with monuments that are untraceable due to historical neglect or lack of resources.

How many historical monuments have been lost in this way?

  • According to the Ministry of Culture’s submission to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism, and Culture in December 2022, a total of 50 out of India’s 3,693 centrally protected monuments were missing.
  • In 2013, a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India highlighted the issue of missing monuments. The report stated that at least 92 centrally protected monuments across the country were missing.  

Conclusion: The ASI has decided to delist 18 centrally protected monuments that are deemed to have lost national importance. This delisting means these monuments will no longer receive protection or conservation from the ASI.

Mains PYQs

Q Safeguarding the Indian art heritage is the need of the moment. Comment  (UPSC IAS/2018)



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