Karnataka's heritage: High on Wi-Fi, low on toilets

Karnataka's heritage: High on Wi-Fi, low on toilets

An expert, who has worked with the government on conservation projects, said the ASI doesn't trust the state Archaeology Department

Data shows that the ASI's three circles in Karnataka have spent between Rs 21 crore and a maximum of Rs 28.55 crore annually in the last five years. Credit: iStockPhoto

Karnataka, a state which boasts a rich historical and cultural heritage, has 506 monuments under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) but less than 15% of them have basic infrastructure facilities like drinking water and toilets.

In terms of the number of monuments under central protection, Karnataka is next only to Uttar Pradesh (743) and fares better than other states in one category: the highest number of monuments (22) with Wi-Fi facility in the country.

However, lack of basic amenities overshadows the technological advancement. Of the 506 monuments, only 53 have toilets, 69 have drinking water, 100 have benches to sit and less than half (249) have signages providing information about the place. As many as 160 of them are yet to get an approach road.

ASI Superintending Archaeologist Shivakant Bajpai said providing basic infrastructure at monuments was a continuous process. "We are getting cooperation from the state government in this regard. More monuments will get the facilities," he said.

An expert, who has worked with the government on conservation projects, said the ASI doesn't trust the state Archaeology Department. "Compared with the ASI, the state department has a long way to go in terms of developing expertise or even professionalism. Despite a history that can be traced to 200 years, the department has been brought under the tourism department," she said.

An official, however, noted that the ASI works on a shoestring budget even as the requirement for funds grows. The state government has to pitch in for providing infrastructure, leaving the ASI to focus on conservation and protection. 

Data shows that the ASI's three circles in Karnataka have spent between Rs 21 crore and a maximum of Rs 28.55 crore annually in the last five years for conservation and protection of monuments in the state.

The expert noted that the ASI, which collects entry fees at 12 monuments, has limited revenue and the state tourism department, which has better access to funds than the ASI, should invest in amenities. "Not all ASI monuments may necessarily need toilets. Many monuments are just a single temple in a town or village — for example, the Doddagaddavalli temple or the Hulikere Kalyani (Hassan district). In such cases, it should be the tourism department that provides amenities somewhere in the vicinity. Give money to the panchayat specifically for this purpose and ensure that the facility doesn't affect the safety or aesthetics of the monument," she added.

Check out DH's latest videos: