J.S. Ifthekhar

Severe shortage of security staff to man monuments

Temple coming up at the 30-acre megalithic burial site in Hasmathpet

Construction activity taking place flouting Archaeology Act

Hyderabad: Important archaeological sites and monuments in the State are facing the threat of encroachment and the Department of Archaeology and Museums is unable to protect them. Severe shortage of security staff has only made matters worse.

Right in the State capital excavation is on near the historic Makkah Masjid, a protected monument and the department is unable to check it. Short of lodging a complaint with the police and the GHMC, no action has been taken.

At the 30 acre megalithic burial site at Hasmathpet in Secunderabad, construction of a temple is in progress since a few days and the department remains a helpless spectator. Similarly nine buildings have come up in close proximity of the majestic Hayath Bakshi Begum mosque at Hayathnagar. At Kondapally near Vijayawada, huts are pitched on a 100 -acre site belonging to the Department of Archaeology and Museums.

What is surprising is that construction activity is taking place in total violation of the Archaeology Act which stipulates that no construction should take place within 100 meters of a protected monument.

Want of budget

The Department is unable to check the intrusion on its property as its security staff is woefully inadequate. While it has a total of 27 museums and 560 monuments throughout the State, there are only 80 persons to protect them. The Department requires a minimum of 650 watch and ward staff. Its request for sanction of at least 350 security guards is pending with the government. It has not paid salary to the 80 outsourced security staff for the last six months.

For the A.P. State Museum, which has priceless objects, it is proposed to engage the services of CISF on the lines of the Salarjung Museum. It would cost the department Rs. 2.5 crore annually. This proposal is also pending with the government. For want of proper security, the new museums that have come up at Vishkapatnam and Vizianagaram two years ago have not been thrown open to the public. “We have rare bronze sculptures and antiques dating back to second century BC. Without adequate security we can’t open the museums”, says P. Chenna Reddy, Director, Archaeology and Museums.