Center will review procedure to declare monuments of national importance: EAC-PM

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DELHI : The Economic Advisory Council of the PM (EAC-PM) has suggested to the Center that it elaborate substantive criteria and a detailed procedure to declare monuments of national importance.

In a report titled ‘Monuments of National Importance – Urgent Need for Streamlining’, the EAC-PM noted that spending on conservation and maintenance of monuments of national importance is inadequate.

“The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) must come up with substantive criteria and a detailed procedure for declaring monuments of national importance.

“It should also publish a notification book with detailed information on the provenance of all Monuments of National Importance (NIM),” the report says.

EAC-PM also recommended that minor monuments and antiquities protected as monuments be denoted as MNI and that monuments with local importance be transferred to the respective states for protection.

”The allocation of funds for the protection of monuments of national importance should be increased. At the same time, revenue streams such as tickets, events, fees, and other sources need to be more proactively tapped and revenue must be retained by ASI,” the report says.

“In addition to streamlining the existing list, other monuments should be added to the list based on well-defined criteria and procedures,” it added.

The report prepared by the EAC-PM states that the existing list of NIMs has not been reviewed since Independence and has become “unwieldy” due to the inclusion of minor colonial structures or monuments that are not of national importance.

“A large number of NMIs appear to have no national importance or historical or cultural significance. Our analysis estimates that around a quarter of the current list of 3,695 NMIs may not be of ‘national importance’ per se,” the report says.

For example, there are around 75 graves and cemeteries of British officers and soldiers that are of no architectural, historical or cultural significance on the list. The list includes various free-standing and movable “antiquities”, such as sculptures, statues, cannons, etc., which are treated as “monuments”.

EAC-PM member Sanjeev Sanyal prepared the report which also recommended that the revenue from these monuments be given to the implementing agencies.

In addition, he has suggested that independent antiquities should be removed from the list of monuments of national importance, while lesser and untraceable monuments should be notified as soon as possible.

According to the report, the center had assigned $428 crores for the maintenance and protection of 3,695 monuments, which is approximately $11 lakhs per MNI.

“This is very little for a culturally rich and civilized state like India. Therefore, there is an urgent need to exponentially increase the allocation of funds for the protection and maintenance of monuments,” said the EAC-PM.

According to the report, more than 60% (2,238 out of 3,695) of them are in just five states: Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. By way of illustration, while the city of Delhi alone has 173 NMIs, a large state like Telangana has only eight. Culturally and historically significant states like Bihar (70), Odisha (80), Chhattisgarh (46) and Kerala (29) have disproportionately fewer NIMs.

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