Delhi archaeology department draws plan to upkeep heritage sites

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Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Several heritage sites and monuments, conserved by the state archaeology department in the city during the last one decade, are in desperate need of frequent up-keep. In absence of any mechanism for continuing maintenance in place and non-availability of skilled workforce, some of the structures are susceptible to de-generation again.

The department has taken a note of this vulnerable situation and decided to draw up a plan to carry out maintenance on a regular basis. They will be tying up with the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC) to fix up the sites. 

The department being aware of the development, decided to engage a private agency for the job, said officials. “Once any structure is restored or conserved, the department has no arrangements for their day-to-day maintenance and cleaning. This could lead to irreparable damage to some sites. Besides loss of pointing and cracks, vegetation growth on historic structures is a common issue. Illumination was done at a couple of buildings but lamps are non-functional,” he added.

“These issues need to be addressed on a regular basis. Therefore, DTTDC can be taken on board as it has a separate civil engineering and an electrical wing. The corporation can serve as ‘one stop solution’ for the archaeology department,” said a senior government official.

During spells of heavy downpour last month, portions of two heritage structures collapsed, which are under the custodianship of the department. The officials said that the primary reason for the incident is poor maintenance.

After a survey, 238 ancient buildings were identified from the list of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to be protected in phase-wise manner. The department then roped in the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage for their conservation and restoration.

“Around 60 historical buildings including tombs and baolis (step wells) have been restored in the last 7-8 years with the help of Intach. However, shortage of conservationists and other experts are the main reasons for the state of affairs,” added the official. 

“The department was planning to start a tendering process to select an agency for the maintenance job so that these heritage structures could be kept in a good and safe condition. We are also modifying recruitment rules to employ regular staff,” said another official.



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