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ASI digs lead nowhere

Reports of around 56 excavations carried out in the last 10-15 years are yet to be completed.

india Updated: Aug 23, 2006 03:20 IST

A curious ennui appears to have gripped the diggers of history. A staggering number of excavations carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in the last decade have led nowhere, prompting the body to put all fresh projects on hold.

Reports of around 56 excavations carried out in the last 10-15 years are yet to be completed.

In many cases, reports have been abandoned midway and some haven't even got off the mark. In other cases, persons who headed the excavations have retired or died leaving the project in the lurch. The mandatory concise report is published for scholars, historians, students. In effect, whatever nuggets of information that archaeologists have dug up are inaccessible to the academic community, leave alone the public --- not to mention the waste of money.

"We have decided not to undertake any fresh excavation till we have published the pending detailed reports of the 56 excavations carried out over the last 10-15 years. The number is quite large keeping in view that the number of excavations carried out every year is not more than 4-5. We have decided to publish the reports by September 2007," director-general of ASI C. Babu Rajeev said.

To stem the rot, the ASI is looking at a few options.  "Wherever officers have retired, we have asked them to come back and complete the report. We are providing whatever assistance we can besides an honorarium. If the retired person is ill or unable to come, we are taking the help of those officers who were assisting him to write the report."

Again, a decision has been taken to let only the branches in Delhi, Orissa, Bihar, Baroda, Nagpur to handle the cases.

It has also been decided to ensure that the tenure of the officer in charge of an excavation continues  till he completes his detailed report, Rajeev said.