Funds crunch for ancient sites maintenance in Assam

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Guwahati, Nov 18 (UNI) With close to 100 protected and listed archaeological sites and monuments in the state, Assam is facing acute fund crunch for their maintenance.

'' Funds are available for 'protection' of these monuments but the problem erupts when it comes to 'regular maintenance','' Cultural Affairs Minister Gautam Bora informed in the Assembly during the just concluded session of the House.

The state had total of 96 protected and listed monuments and sites, dating back up to the early medieval period and ranging from temples to stone inscriptions to graveyards.

These are protected under the Assam Ancient Monument and Records Act 1959 and the Assam Ancient Monuments and Records Rules 1964.

The minister informed that Rs 50 lakh was allotted in the budget for the year 2007-08 for protection of the monuments. Moreover, additional funds were allotted in the 11th and 12th five-year plans and various schemes for protection and maintenance of the sites were being implemented with this money, he added.

Mr Bora, however, conceded that though funds were available for protection of the monuments, regular maintenance was marred. Protection of the archaeological sites was a point under clause six of the 1985 historic Assam Accord but the money is yet to be received.

The state government had sent a scheme of Rs 22.075 crore to the Centre but approval is still pending, the minister said adding that the department had no master plan for preservation of the sites and monuments.

A directorate of archaeology had been formed separately for the protection and preservation of the ancient sites. It had 67 employees currently, with ten posts vacant. The minister said a proposal was being readied for further up gradation of the directorate and sanction of additional funds so that work can progress better.

UNI

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