Inadequate security haunts heritage sites

Inadequate security haunts heritage sites

Delhi, being the national capital has the distinction of accommodating several captivating prehistoric monuments across the city, some of which are recognised by World Heritage Sites.

But the City has been witnessing a lapse in the entire security arrangement, earmarked to protect and preserve the monuments and its vicinity.

There have been cases of theft, vandalism and encroachment by the miscreants and visitors. The monuments are even vulnerable to terrorist attacks due to the absence of
tight security.

Some of the popular ticketed monumental sites have been reported to have no metal detector, baggage scanners and CCTV cameras. The issue is even worse for the lesser known monuments. Despite the deployment of security forces around Jama Masjid, the lack of alertness and checking by security forces and non-working condition of metal detectors raises serious concerns, especially during the month of Ramzan, when footfall tends to increase.

World Heritage Sites like Humayun’s Tomb and Qutab Minar too face shortage of security infrastructure and man-power. “There is a need to upgrade the security system by introducing metal detectors and baggage scanners in these sites. It would facilitate us in the whole process of maintaining vigilance,” said Binod Kumar, who works as a security personnel at Humayun’s Tomb. “The staff members are also underpaid,” he added.

Some of the lesser known monuments have also become the targets of the local spectators. In the absence of any security, they have started using them as shelter areas. “Nobody takes care of these monuments. Thus we come and relax here in our leisure time,” said a local resident near Adham Khan Tomb in Mehrauli.
There are instances where one might not even find a single attendant to oversee the lesser known monuments. Hence, the chances of vandalism are higher at these places.

It often leads to visitors violating the rules by scribbling on the walls and littering the surrounding areas. “Anyone can go inside without any sort of checking being done at most of the places. It is essential to provide security to our natio-nal monuments as it signifies our heritage,” a local
tourist said.

According to a report by Comptroller and Auditor General of India on Security of the Monuments in 2012, it was revealed that there was acute shortage of staff in all key positions in the Archeological Survey of India (ASI).

It was also noted that adequate security equipments were not installed at the monuments. The report also stated that the ASI did not have an updated and approved conservation policy to address the conservation and preservation requirements.

“The issue of not considering a proper site plan, maps and monuments’ importance in the security assessment of a site should have been resolved much before. Limited budget and the inefficiency, due to
bureaucratic delays have been among the primary reasons for the neglect of various important monuments,” said Prof. A G K Menon, Convener of INTACH.

Accepting that there is a shortage of security officials, he recommended that ASI should try and involve local communities for higher securities and better vigilance.

Though the official authorities of ASI cited lack of security attendants as a concern but when Metrolife inquired further, they declined to comment on the issue.

The restoration works of monuments carried out by the ASI has also been adversely affected due to the lack of adequate security arrangement.