SRINAGAR: Despite having the highest number of monumental sites, the Department of Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has not made its office functional in the Kashmir division.
As per ASI, a total of 56 monument sites are in the Jammu and Kashmir union territory of which a total of 43 are alone in Kashmir valley and only 13 are in the Jammu division.
The office of the aforementioned department has been functional in the Jammu division for the past three decades despite the highest number of globally known monument sites being in Kashmir valley alone.
Official sources told that as part of the annual Darbar Move the department moved to the Jammu division in 1989 and since then it has not come back to the valley, rather established sub circle offices in the valley.
“More than 200 employees, including the officers and officials of different ranks are available with the department of which only 82 are posted in the Kashmir valley,” officials said.
“The staff strength is very less in the valley while the historically important sites are available in Kashmir valley. Not only do sites face different threats like human and natural, but also there is a need to protect and preserve these sites on a priority basis as they hold a very significant background of Kashmir’s ancestral history”, the official sources said wishing anonymity.
The source also said that the employees of the department in Kashmir valley are also facing immense difficulties as they are not able to get their required documents done within a time-bound period like the GP fund cases.
Stating that the department seems non-serious about historically significant sites in the Kashmir valley, the official sources also said that almost all of the central government offices are functional in Srinagar and even in recent CAT and IT offices were made functional in the region.
“It has been three decades now and the department seems not to be interested in strengthening its base within the valley and ensuring that the monument sites are secured and the required amount of protection and care is given,” they said.
They further said that even after the visit of the Chairman of the National Monument Authority to J&K between 22-26 November no concrete steps have been initiated so far. “Thirty years is a long gap and it’s not good that the department has not made its office functions within the valley and instead made three sub circle offices functional in central, south, and north Kashmir”, official sources said.
Notably, up to the year 1989, the office of ASI was functional at the Manto building in Srinagar. Attempts made to the head of ASI in Jammu and Kashmir for the comments did not fructify—(KNO)