Formed to improve management of monuments, it will have jurisdiction over 20 central and southern districts of the State
A new administrative circle of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), with jurisdiction over 20 central and southern districts of the State, came into existence in Tiruchi on Thursday.
The Tiruchi Circle, created by bifurcating the ASI’s Chennai Circle, will have 162 monuments and sites under its control.
It is one of the seven new circles of the ASI created across the country to improve management of monuments by the Union Ministry of Culture.
The erstwhile office of the Tiruchi Sub-Circle, situated right behind the Mainguard Gate, a heritage monument, will function as the Circle office temporarily. T. Arun Raj, who took charge as the first Superintending Archaeologist of the circle, said a more spacious building for the circle would be identified soon in consultation with the district administration.
Speaking to The Hindu, Dr. Raj said the circle would get more officers, including technical staff, in the near future, in proportion to the number of monuments and sites under its control. “While preserving world heritage monuments, such as the Brihadeesvara temple at Thanjavur, will be the priority, importance would also be given to protect lesser known monuments, especially in Pudukottai, Thanjavur and Tirunelveli districts. Loose sculptures would be strengthened, fenced and documented,” he said.
Dr. Raj said that he would soon write to the Collectors and police officers in the districts under his jurisdiction on the importance of protecting heritage structures and preventing encroachments.
He would strive to revive the district level heritage committees, with enthusiasts and officials as members, to take up initiatives to safeguard unprotected monuments.
App to be developed
He also plans to develop an app wherein local residents can upload pictures of sculptures and idols of lesser known sites and temples so that they serve as a repository of digital records.
It could help prevent theft of idols and in easy identification/tracing in case of thefts.
Earlier, speaking at a brief ceremony, Dr. Raj underlined the need to protect monuments and heritage structures, some of which are being gradually lost, by involving local communities. “We will try to raise awareness on the importance of protecting heritage structures and sites through various programmes,” he said. The scope for roping in local industries in conservation efforts under public-private partnership mode would also be explored,he added.
S. Rajavelu, adjunct faculty, Department of History, Alagappa University, said the creation of the new circle was a dream come true as the Chola belt had a large number of temples and heritage sites, many of which were not properly maintained. There is also scope for carrying out excavations along the Cauvery banks, he said.
Arockiasamy Xavier, Principal, St.Joseph’s College, said the institution would soon sign MoUs to work in close coordination with the ASI in its conservation and research efforts.
Responding to a suggestion from A.Manikandan, a heritage enthusiast from Pudukottai, Dr. Raj agreed to explore the feasibility of organising heritage tours in the region.