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Why not enough staff to protect monuments?

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The archaeology and conservation work has either come to a standstill or it is being carried out at below-par levels in terms of quality owing to the staff crunch while many monuments are in dilapidated condition and others are facing thefts of the valuables.

New Delhi : A Parliamentary Standing Committee has pulled up the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) having as many as 2,800 posts vacant even while having an acute shortage of manpower in the upkeep of the centrally-protected monuments.

The archaeology and conservation work has either come to a standstill or it is being carried out at below-par levels in terms of quality owing to the staff crunch while many monuments are in dilapidated condition and others are facing thefts of the valuables.


“When a large number of youths are unemployed in our country, it is cruel on the party of the ministry of culture and ASI to keep thousands of posts vacant,” says the standing committee headed by Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien in its report submitted in Parliament early this week.

It has also sought a detailed report on the effect of such a gap in staff strength on maintenance of the historical monuments in the country. “Across cadres, the acute shortage of staff has led to overburdening of existing staff and poor quality of upkeep of monuments. If the workload of four persons is dumped on one, the quality of work suffers,” a senior ASI officer admitted.

The culture ministry has also drawn flak from the standing committee as top 12 museums, libraries and cultural bodies, including Hyderabad’s Salar Jung Museum, Allahabad Museum and Kolkata’s National Library continue to be headless. How are these organisations functioning without such senior level people, the committee asked.

Other institutions not having the directors include Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, Central Secretariat Library, Delhi, Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, Kolkata. Three of the seven posts of the directors in the zonal cultural centres are also vacant. These centres are mandated to ensure preservation and promotion of all forms of art and culture.

The ministry has tried to play down the staff crunch of ASI by stating that the staff selection committee is in the advanced stage of finalising selection of 1,314 vacant posts of multi-tasking staff on direct recruitment basis while the ASI is also constantly pursuing the matter with the Union Public Service Commission and Staff Selection Commission for filling up the vacancies. It said the ASI is also pursuing proposals for amendment of the recruitment rules.

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