The report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India for the year ending March 31, 2011, has criticised the Department of Archaeology and Museums for allocating more funds for conservation of monuments in Bangalore and Mysore divisions in comparison to that allocated for monuments in Belgaum and Gulbarga divisions, and the report said it smacked of regional bias.

According to the CAG report (Civil), a review showed that while Rs. 21.63 crore was allocated for conservation of 208 monuments in Bangalore and Mysore divisions in the period between 2006 and 2011, only Rs. 11.20 crore was allocated during the same period for conservation of 555 monuments in Belgaum and Gulbarga divisions.

The CAG report said that the absence of any guidelines or norms for prioritisation of conservation works created opportunities for the implementing authorities to select works subjectively, resulting in regional bias. The report said that the government had in December agreed to ensure that there was no bias in selection of monuments for conservation. The CAG said that unless subjective selection of monuments for conservation is done away with by putting in place a transparent process of selection based on merits as per norms, regional bias in allocation of funds for conservation of monuments cannot be eliminated.

Scrutiny of the work taken up to conserve 71 protected and 56 unprotected monuments in the period between 2006 and 2011 showed that the work was not completed as per schedule.While in Gulbarga division there was delay of up to 13 months to complete work on conservation of monuments, in Mysore division the delay was up to 26 months, in Bangalore division up to 42 months and in Belgaum division the delay was up to 12 months. As conservation works were taken up as an emergency measure in many cases, any abnormal delay in completion was fraught with the risk of further damages to the monuments concerned.

A review of payments made to the contractors for conservation works during January 2007 and March 2011 showed that the Director and Commissioner of Archaeology had failed to deduct labour cess of Rs. 32.82 lakh and Rs. 8.91 lakh respectively from the bills in contravention of instructions issued by the government. The CAG said that while the government had said that the cess would be deducted from the bills and remitted in the forthcoming years commencing from 2011-12, it was silent about the cess not recovered during 2007 and 2011.

The CAG report went on to say that bad maintenance was threatening the existence of Govindeswara and Nakeswara temples in Koravangala of Hassan district, Mallikarjuna temple of Mallappanagudi in Hospet taluk, Kalleswara Temple in Hulikar of Tiptur taluk, Khalia Masjid in Lakshmeswara of Shirahatti taluk, Eshwara temple in Virupakshipura of Mulbagal taluk, and Shiva temples in Sitarama Thanda and Talavaraghatta in Kamalapur in Bellary district. The government has said that it would release more funds for their maintenance.

Keywords: CAGArchaeology

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