Union Minister of Culture, G Kishan Reddy in Lok Sabha on Monday said that twenty-four centrally protected monuments and sites in the country are "untraceable."
Well, this is not the first time such discussion has taken place in the Parliament. Earlier in 2015, 2016, and even in 2017, similar questions were posed in the Lok Sabha and then then-Cultural Minister Mahesh Sharma gave similar reply, pinning the blame on encroachments and rapid urbanisation. At that time in 2013, the number of 'untraceable' questions had been 35.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under whose protection these monuments fall, conducted a survey of these missing monuments and discovered that over 92 monuments were missing from the site since 2013.
The survey agency, in its 2018 PIB report, said that 14 monuments were affected, 12 were submerged under reservoirs and dams, and 24 sites were 'untraceable'.
In order to locate, trace, restore, and recover the missing monuments, the steps taken were by verifying old records, revenue maps, physical inspection, reviewing second hand information such as published reports and datas, deployment of team to trace them.
According to The Federal, the ASI entered into an agreement with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to use its expertise in preserving and monitoring the heritage sites of the country.
The government report suggested that the maximum number of these untraceable historic monuments were from Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and Rajasthan.
It stated these missing sites included the ruins of three small linga temples from 1000 AD, the Telia Nala Buddhist ruins in Varanasi, a 12th century temple from Rajasthan, several tombs and cemeteries in Lucknow.
Others were the Kutumbari Temple, Dwarahat, Almora in Uttarakhand, Delhi's Bara Khamba Cemetery, Inchla Wali Gumti, Mubarakpur Kotla, and West Bengal's the Ruins of the fort, Bamapukur, Nadia, and an Old European Tomb in Pune, the ruins of the Copper Temple in Arunachal Pradesh.
Reportedly, these sites have been taken over by encroachers because they were not monitored or physically protected.
The sites that got submerged under reservoirs or dams were the hills of Nagarjunakonda, a prehistoric site in Karnataka, Visveswara, and other cave temples in J&K and others.
Besides this, the government report also said that antiquated items have also been stolen from these heritage sites. Reddy, in a written response to Opposition's query in Lok Sabha, said that 210 thefts, involving 486 objects, have been reported from centrally protected monuments since Independence.
Reddy also said ASI that conducts regular village surveys, has surveyed 8,478 villages in the past eight years and antiquarian remains have been found in 2,914 of them. In total, 3,693 heritage sites in the country are protected by the ASI, with 743 in Uttar Pradesh, the largest in a state, he said. He added, out of the 3,693 heritage sites, entry fee is charged at 143 locations.
Speaking about the conservation work undertaken by ASI, the Union Minister said, "743 monuments, including 144 temples, in Uttar Pradesh are undergoing conservation work. Conservation of monuments is a continuous process. Works are carried out by ASI as per site requirement and available resources."