Major emphasis on monuments in 2016, says Ministry of Culture

New Delhi, Dec 31 (IANS) From providing cashless tools to visitors to satellite mapping of historical sites, one of the major accomplishments of Ministry of Culture in 2016 has been its focus on monuments, says the ministry’s just-released year-end review.

“Ministry of Culture’s mandate revolves around the functions like preservation and conservation of Ancient Cultural Heritage and promotion of Art and Culture both Tangible and Intangible in the country. Ministry is working on the protection, development and promotion of all types of heritage of culture namely, tangible heritage, intangible heritage and knowledge heritage”, the ministry said in a statement.

Currently, there are 116 ticketed monuments and 32 museums under the protection of ASI (Archaeological Survey of India). E-ticketing facility has been launched in coordination with Canara Bank to provide an online booking facility for visitors, the ministry said.

E-ticketing facility has been playing a significant role in facilitating the cashless transactions to the Indian and foreign tourists. The e- Ticket sales increased by 10 times and the revenue increased by 60 times between October 9 and November 8.

The ministry also said that a process is underway to procure hardware to have computerized facility for the sale of e-tickets at monuments.

The ASI has also created a “Must-See Monuments and Archaeological Sites of India” portal with details of nearly 100 such structures.

“The purpose of the portal is to highlight outstanding monuments and sites in India, comprising world heritage properties, sites under UNESCO’s Tentative List, ASI’s ticketed and other non-ticketed prominent monuments. Nearly a hundred monuments have been identified for this purpose. Sites have been selected on the basis of their exceptional art and architecture, planning and design, displaying exemplary engineering skills and being a unique testimony to the civilization in the past”, the ministry said.

ASI also entered into a MoU with National Remote Sensing Centre, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for preparation of satellite based maps indicating prohibited and regulated areas clearly for the information of public and also to facilitate procedure for grant of permissions for construction related activity within prohibited and regulated areas of all 3686 centrally protected monuments.

The year also saw return of several antiquities smuggled out of India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to USA in June facilitated return of 17 antiquities smuggled out of India to USA. Out of these, 8 antiquities have already been returned to India and the remaining 9 are in process of return. Further a stone object of Parrot Lady from Canada and another stone object of Hindu goddess Durga from Germany have also been retrieved.

During the course of the year, All ASI protected historical monuments and archaeological sites were declared polythene free zones.

“All ASI Protected Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites have been declared ‘Polythene Free Zones’. Advisory was issued to all State Governments/UTs to support ASI in keeping Monuments Polythene Free up to 300 meters from the protected boundaries of the Monuments”, the ministry said.

The Ministry has further sanctioned Rs 350 crores to provide facilities like protected boundaries, toilets and disabled friendly access in all ASI protected monuments.

–IANS

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