Voicing his opposition to the often haphazard and mindless urbanization taking place in the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said even the country's archaeological heritage is being threatened.
"The pressures of urbanization and population growth are now threatening our historic monuments everywhere in the country. Unless we act quickly to improve the manner in which we look after these treasures, we will have to answer to the future generations," he said while speaking at the 150th anniversary celebrations of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
"We need to evolve a more holistic understanding of conservation that combines our preservation efforts with the social and economic needs of the community," he said.
Emphasizing on the crucial role of the states in preservation of our archaeological heritage, the PM hinted at a centrally-sponsored scheme that would take care of the professional and financial support to state archaeology departments involved in conservation of historical monuments.
"The state archaeology departments which are responsible for such monuments and sites need both professional and financial support. The Planning Commission has suggested a centrally sponsored scheme for this purpose."
Singh also asked the culture ministry and the ASI to work out a scheme which entrusts greater responsibility to state archaeology departments, universities and research institutes in restoration and conservation of India's heritage.
The event to kickstart a year-long programme to celebrate 150 years of the ASI was also addressed by HRD and IT minister Kapil Sibal and culture minister Kumari Selja.
At present, the ASI, with the mandate to preserve India’s archaeological heritage, protects more than 3677 monuments. It is also engaged in conservation work at Ta-Prohm in Cambodia and Vat Phou temple in Laos. It is also expected to take up the Ananda temple at Bagan, Myanmar, and the Mee-sone group of temples in Vietnam soon.
A highlight of the event was the felicitation of five eminent archaeologists. The PM also released a set of 12 books and a set of commemorative postage stamps.