Two UNESCO sites face acute shortage of staff to enable their protection

Two UNESCO sites face acute shortage of staff to enable their protection
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Two UNESCO sites face acute shortage of staff to enable their protection

Highlights

The world famous Unesco world heritage site Hampi has become part of newly formed Vijayanagara district last year. This is most famous site , attracting large number of tourists for its stone carvings.

Vijayanagara: The world famous Unesco world heritage site Hampi has become part of newly formed Vijayanagara district last year. This is most famous site , attracting large number of tourists for its stone carvings.

It is also well known that gold, jewels, crystals, diamonds were being sold in footpaths during regime of erstwhile king Sri Krishnadevaraya. The Hampi site was part of Bellary district before birfurcation. A signature cultural heritage site situated on the bank of river Tungabhadra that attracts thousands of history and culture enthusiasts from across the globe every year, now part of Vijayanagara district.

Officials and experts say efforts to protect the monuments are crippled by inadequate staff and the absence of a participatory approach to conservation. An official on condition of anonymity told this reporter that Vijayanagara Archaeological survey of India (ASI) office is functioning at 30 per cent of its strength. In the Dharwad circle, just 45 per cent of the positions have been filled.

To top it all, none of the handful of contract workers and daily wage labourers deployed at the monuments are trained in protecting them. This remains the dismal state of affairs of protected monuments, experts say that over at least a thousand other structures will sink into oblivion before they are even noticed by conservation agencies.A majority of those neglected monuments are either in dilapidated condition or have collapsed.

Recently, the State government gave approval to conduct a survey (Samrakshana programme) of the historical monuments in Karnataka. However, the shortage of staff hampered protection of historical monuments. In Hampi the ASI identified 57 monuments are protected. But many have just a single night watchman.

In the year 2019 February last a group of five youths vandalised a 14 century historical pillar in Hampi without knowing the importance of structure. The vandalising video went viral , police swung in to action , managed to arrest the five. They confessed that they did this for sheer excitment. To keep a watch on such incidents Hampi needs more D group employees but ASI yet to act on it.

The another site under Unesco list is Badami , Aihole and Pattadakallu are three historic places which is in northern Part of Karnataka (Bagalkote District). Badami is around 200 KMs from Hampi which is another most visited tourist spot. It is believed that Pattadakallu is a epicenter of Chalukyan art and architecture. They are known for their rock temples and inscriptions which originated in Aihole around 12th century and later perfected at Badami and Pattadakallu villages. Attracted by the scenic beauty and natural defenses provided by majestically standing hills and vast sheet of water below, the Chalukyas shifted their capital from Aihole to Badami. The Badami and Pattadakal have 29 monuments. The office have just 12 staff in place of 29. An official told that there are two tourists counters which distributes tickets to tourists have four staff. Among the remaining 8 staff have to keep a watch on all monuments. He said earlier 800-100 people visiting the site but post Covid the number reduced to 300-400 daily. A villager Nagaraju in Badami told that miscreants in search of treasure digs ancient monuments , many villagers encroached upon sites long back. The government should take steps to evict encroachers from sites.

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