Circle of neglect: ASI structures wither away for lack of care

Experts For More Support For Chennai Circle With 420 Monuments, 2 Unesco Sites.

Two Unesco world heritage sites and 420 monuments spread across Tamil Nadu and Puducherry make up the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) Chennai circle. The proper maintenance of all these places of historical importance requires a small army of experts, but only 130 officials are entrusted with their upkeep. The grossly insufficient manpower has meant the ancient structures in the region are encroached upon, defaced or languish in anonymity.

While Unesco heritage sites such as the Shore temple at Mamallapuram and the Brihadeeshwarar temple at Thanjavur are the well-maintained, the smaller Jain heritage sites and megalithic rock formations suffer from neglect. It is this disparity that has brought to focus the abandoned move to bifurcate the Chennai Circle for proper conservation.

From protection of monuments to excavation of new archaeological sites and giving no-objection certificates for construction on land near heritage sites, the extent of the responsibilities put a strain on the ASI officials. Official sources said an attempt to bifurcate the massive circle was initiated five years ago but is yet to happen.

 B Athmanathan, assistant secretary of Pandya Nadu Centre for Historical Research, pointed out that monuments maintained by the ASI south of Cauvery river hardly get any attention. “The ancient Jain sculptures in Madurai dating back more than 1,500 years badly need conservation. While the group of monuments at Mamallapuram, Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur and rock cut Jain temple at Sittanavasal glitter, other monuments are grossly ignored,” said Madurai-based Athmanathan. The need of the hour is to have a separate circle for the upkeep of ancient monuments in the southern districts, he added.....Read more


Source web page: Times of India

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