Filling of key posts will give fillip to conservation and excavation activities

In a move that will bring cheer to heritage lovers, the State government has ordered the State archaeology department to fill up 16 posts. They include those of archaeologists, epigraphists and curators in the department under which come 85 protected monuments, inscriptions and site museums in the State.

As per the government order, the commissioner of archaeology has been requested to accord special permission to fill up 16 posts in the department through employment exchange on purely temporary contract basis with a consolidated pay of Rs 15,000 per month. Eight curators, five archaeological officers and one archaeologist, pre-historic archaeologist and epigraphist will be appointed. “The measure is a stop-gap arrangement by the government till the regular candidates are appointed because further delay in conservation efforts could endanger protected monuments,” said a government official.

Government sources said as an immediate measure, two site museum curators would be appointed in Karur district and a curator each at site museums in Poondi (Tiruvallur), Gangaikondacholapuram (Perambalur), Coimbatore, Tirukkoilur (Villupuram), Dharmapuri and Tranquebar (Nagapattinam). At present, of the 14 site museums in the State, only the one in Vellore district, has an independent curator; five museums, in Perambalur, Ramnathapuram, Tirunevelli and Dharmapuri districts, do not have curators. In the other districts, the post of the curator is being held as an additional charge by officials of the department.

Further, the positions of archaeological officers at five district offices inlcuding Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari, Nagerkoil and Chidambaram will be filled. Currently, the commissioner in-charge of the department, S. Vasanthi, is in charge of the district office in Chidambaram. The Chennai district archaeological office is also manned by the commissioner.

Due to lack of experts, all registering offices of the department, except the one at Chennai, are closed. A registering officer and supporting archaeological staff are appointed by the department to prevent smuggling of art treasures from the country. Archaeological experts believe that appointments will bring new lease of life to the conservation of heritage structures in the state. For example, to undertake an excavation, the department needs at least five experts — an archaeologist, draftsman, engineer, chemist and a marker. Shortage of hands has crippled many such excavation works by the department.

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