Monuments not suitable for running offices: Joint Secretary

The shifting of the Archaeological Survey of India’s Delhi Circle Office from the Safdarjung Tomb is part of larger shifting of offices out of historic monuments.

The ASI shifted from its office on the southern side of the tomb to the General Pool Offices complex near the Indian National Army (INA) Colony between July 6 and 9.

The office was housed at the tomb since 1972, when the Delhi Circle was carved out of the erstwhile Northern Circle based in Dehradun. The reference library, which boasts 12,000 tomes in the ramparts of the tomb, is also being moved to the new venue.

Responding to The Hindu’s report on the shift, Culture Ministry Joint Secretary Sanjiv Mittal said: “Monuments are not suitable for running offices. Their presence may endanger monuments due to installation of air-conditioners and partitions. Wherever feasible, the ASI is trying to shift its offices located in monument premises.”

He added that the Puratatva Bhawan in D-Block of the General Pool Offices complex belongs to the ASI and they have spent over Rs.3 crore through the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) on renovating the place.

“The ASI is concerned with all aspects related to functionality and basic amenities, and they are doing their best to ensure that all facilities are in place,” Mr. Mittal said in response to complaints of poor maintenance and low visibility of the new office.

Superintending Archaeologist (Delhi) Vasant Swarnkar, who heads the establishment at Puratatva Bhawan, clarified that the CPWD has been informed about the problems and requested to rectify the same soon. In addition to the ASI, several officers of the Ministry of Culture have also moved to the new venue.

Various ASI institutions are located in the Red Fort and the Purana Quila. The Red Fort is home to the Institute of Archaeology and the prestigious Underwater Archaeology Wing, while the Central Antiquity Collection is located at the Purana Quila.

ASI Director-General Rakesh Tewari said that they avoid using monuments as offices “as far as possible”.

“We do not occupy a monument if it involves reconstruction that is not reversible. The reference library will also move to INA in due course.”

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