ASI in dock over conservation of Hampi monuments

ASI in dock over conservation of Hampi monuments

Vandalism of monuments at the Unesco world heritage site - Hampi in Ballari district - has put the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in a tight

The initial ‘defence’ of ASI officials that the vandalism may have happened two years ago has left ASI in an embarrassing position, triggering questions over ASI officials’ delay in initiating action against the culprits.

Sources told DH that no complaint was filed by ASI with the police in the last few years against any type of vandalism of monuments.

Also read: One detained over pillar desecration at Hampi

Sources close to the Assistant Commissioner, Hosapete, also revealed that no incident of monument vandalism was brought to his notice by the ASI.

Admitting that the ASI did not file any complaint previously, M Kalimuthu, Deputy Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Hampi mini circle, told DH, “It appears that the incident is two years old and has not come to our notice. I took charge recently and I do not know why it was not reported. We have referred the matter to the police and registered a criminal case against the miscreants,” Kalimuthu said.

Also read: DH Editorial | ASI, govt must answer for Hampi

He said, “The pillars which were lying around and partially buried were protected and restored to the present day condition during 2010-11. But since then, there was no case of vandalism.” But the ASI’s defence and subsequent silence over the matter has brought forth the cavalier attitude of ASI staff currently manning the monument.

The ASI has woken up to the threats to its monuments and has sought steps for their protection, including installation of CCTV networks and deployment of security personnel from its higher officials.

The inquiry report by the Hosapete Assistant Commissioner (AC) Lokesh P N, a copy of which is with DH, has been submitted to the Deputy Commissioner of Ballari. The report mentions about ASI’s decision to seek greater help for protection of monuments, while acknowledging the damage to the monuments by miscreants. Repeated efforts by DH to contact the AC did not succeed.