GUWAHATI, June 6 � The Governor, JB Patnaik, today called upon the Director General of Archaeological Survey of India to take effective steps to deal with the problem of encroachment of the historical sites of the State. He also suggested that the ASI should undertake joint survey of the historical sites along with the officials of the State Government to deal with the problem.
Raj Bhawan sources said that as it was felt that the ASI was not paying due attention to the archaeological sites of Assam, the Governor decided to take the matter to the senior officials of the ASI. He held a long and detailed discussion with the DG of ASI, Gautam Sengupta, and other officials of the Department on the issue today. Several prominent scholars of the State also took part in the discussions.
Initiating the discussion, the Governor stated that except Odisha in entire Eastern India, including West Bengal there was no World Heritage Cultural Site. He said that the nomination dossier of Majuli islands as World Heritage Site had not yet been finalized and that not a single ancient site had been put to major excavations by the ASI to unravel the historical and cultural aspects of the past. He said that there was an urgent need to identify and undertake major excavations at important ancient sites in Assam including at Pragjyotishpur, which, despite being one of the most important historical sites, has so far neither been excavated nor studied in detail to shed light on the unknown facets of the history of the region despite its historical importance. He also stressed that no efforts were made to increase the number of monuments of national importance in the state and that positive efforts were lacking in the conservation of the Ahom monuments of Sivasagar and the monuments of Bamuni Hills.
The participants at the discussion discussed the problems relating to various ancient important sites which included Umananda, North Brooke�s Gate, Joy Sagar Tank, Sivasagar Tank, Maidams of Charaideu, Dargah of Ajan Fakir, Bamuni Hills, Suryya Pahar, Kamakhya Temple including Bhubaneshwari Devi Temple, Royal Palace (Kareng Ghar) of Gargaon and Majuli islands.
After taking the views of the local scholars and experts present, the Governor expressed the view that in the matters of human encroachment in the areas of the historical sites, as was pointed out as a major problem by most of the scholars and experts, the State Govt should be approached to mitigate such problems. He urged upon ASI officials to undertake joint inspection of all the sites with State-level officials and to identify the areas to be selected, to complete the works being undertaken by them at various sites including at Charaideu and Bamuni Hills, to extend their technical support wherever and whenever necessary and to open site-specific museums at feasible sites. He also asked the ASI Director General, to take up the task of conservation of important monuments. He also supported the idea of opening a department of archaelogy at Cotton University with the help of the ASI. He also directed the local officials present to write to ASI through the State Govt for technical support and subsequently for declaring the identified monuments as nationally protected monuments. He also asked the latter to undertake impact assessment studies and prepare reports at their earliest.
The Director General, of ASI agreed to the suggestions of the Governor and assured him to comply accordingly. S.S. Gupta, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI; Dambarudhar Nath of Dibrugarh University; Rekha Das, Prof. & HoD, Anthropology, Gauhati University; I. S. Mumtaza, HoD, History , Gauhati University; Dr. Bhagaban Goswami, HoD, History, Cotton College, Guwahati Dr. Jonali Devi, HoD, Anthropology, Cotton College, Guwahati; Dr. H. N. Dutta, Director, Archaelogy, Govt. of Assam and Ajay Tewari, IAS, Commissioner and Secretary, Governor�s Secretariat, Assam also participated in the discussion.