Archaeological Survey of India resume conservation works as threat caused by Covid-19 alleviates

Express News Service

With the threat caused by coronavirus partly easing, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has resumed conservation and maintenance of prominent protected sites under its jurisdiction. The proposed restoration of major heritage buildings was put on hold mainly because of funding issues after the outbreak of the second wave of the Covid infection.

ASI, the watchdog for over 3,600 historical structures including monuments and forts, has approved plans for restoration of over 20 heritage sites including Buddhist Stupa in Palghar, Kumbhalgarh Fort, Jain Temple in Belgaum, Palace and Tank in Sarkhej, Kanheri caves, Ajanta Caves, Fort Gingee, Fort Aguada, and several others.

“We have started restoration activities at several sites and several other proposals are at tendering stages. In the last four weeks, over 20 tenders were issued for the supply of casual labours, stones, and other construction material at different sites across states. The process is likely to be completed within a month after which the work could begin,” said an official of the ASI.

Some of the proposals have been pending for more than two years.

At Kumbhalgarh Fort, chemical cleaning of the interiors and surface of ancient water tank near Pagda pole is to be done.   

Another major conservation work is to be done at Kamal Basadi Jain temple located inside the Belgaum Fort in Karnataka.

The interventions include removal and fixing of loose or deteriorating lime pointing at its Shikhara (top) and parapet, terracotta tiles from the roof, and weather roof coarse.

Reconstruction of stepped gopura, monumental entrance tower, filling of roof joints and upgradation of existing electrical system and installation of LED lights are also part of the plan.

The official said that at some sites such as the Red Fort in the national capital, the restoration work had come to a halt due to incessant rains.

“A couple of projects were shelved midway because of Covid. Later, heavy downpour forced us to resume activities. However, estimates are being prepared and more projects may begin after formal approval from the authority concerned,” said the official.

The agency has also invited bids for annual maintenance of ancient sites and structures in Goa such as Fort Aguada, Largo, and Chapel of St Cajetan and convent and church of St Francis Assisi at Old Goa.

Last month, tender for conservation of Charminar in Hyderabad, excavation remains at Nalanda and restoration of stone wall surface at Warangal Fort were issued.