Conservation of Heritage Sites – UPSC Notes – Art and Culture

Conservation of heritage sites in India holds significance due to the following reasons:

  1. Safeguarding heritage sites and structures contributes to maintaining a sense of identity and continuity in a rapidly evolving world.
  2. Heritage sites and buildings serve as tangible representations of a nation’s historical and cultural legacy.
  3. Supporting the tourism industry is a key motivation for heritage conservation efforts.
  4. Heritage sites act as repositories preserving the multifaceted history, encompassing cultural, social, and political dimensions of a particular locale.

Conservation of Heritage Sites in India

As per UNESCO rankings, India is ranked 5th globally in the list of countries having the maximum number of World Heritage Sites.

Heritage Sites Protection – Indian Law

The heritage sites in India are protected by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958, which was amended in 2010. As per this law, it protects the following:

  • Heritage sites
  • Monuments
  • Archaeological sites
  • Sculptures

The Protection of Heritage sites in India is undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) working under the Ministry of Culture.

Heritage Sites – Reasons behind Deterioration

There are various reasons behind the deterioration of Heritage Sites. The 2 main factors for deterioration are Natural Causes and Anthropogenic Causes.

Natural Causes

The many factors responsible for the deterioration of Heritage Sites, which can be classified as natural causes, are listed below:

  • Air Pollution
  • Changing Temperature
  • Floods
  • Biological factors like Fungus, Moss, etc.
  • Groundwater, salts, and minerals
  • Solar Radiation
  • Moisture

Anthropogenic Causes

The various factors that can be classified as anthropogenic causes are listed below:

  • Fire – It could be due to an electric short circuit, improper burning of material
  • Urbanisation
  • Vandalism

Understanding and addressing these factors are crucial in ensuring the long-term preservation and sustainability of India’s rich cultural heritage.

Heritage Conservation – Problems Faced by India

As per some reports, there are multiple reasons behind the problems faced by India in the conservation of its heritage sites. Some of these reasons are listed below.

  1. Lacking skilled and adequate manpower to carry out conservation activities.
  2. Lack of importance given to pre-disaster management of heritage sites.
  3. Conservation requires engineering expertise from inter-disciplinary perspectives.
  4. Private sector involvement limited to aesthetic maintenance; crucial issues are unaddressed due to a shortage of skilled resources.
  5. Lack of modern and traditional engineering methods.

Heritage Conservation – Techniques that can be Implemented

The three main techniques used for heritage conservation are:

  1. Structural Conservation:
    • Over time, structures weaken due to foundation pillar and column deterioration, ceiling issues, growth of vegetation (mostly weeds) over older buildings, and water seepage.
    • In structural conservation, reinforcement work is carried out on foundations, repairs are conducted on walls and ceilings, and weeds are removed from the buildings.
  2. Chemical Conservation:
    • Protects monuments from organic and inorganic gases.
    • Helps eliminate moss, algae, and lichens.
  3. Awareness Program:
    • Organizing seminars, events, and workshops across India.
    • Encouraging community participation to prevent vandalization.

FAQs on Heritage Conservation in India:

  1. Why is the conservation of heritage sites important in India?
    • Conservation of heritage sites in India is crucial for maintaining a sense of identity and continuity in a rapidly evolving world. Heritage sites serve as tangible representations of the nation’s historical and cultural legacy, contributing to the preservation of multifaceted history and supporting the tourism industry.
  2. How are heritage sites in India legally protected?
    • The protection of heritage sites in India is governed by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958, amended in 2010. This law safeguards heritage sites, monuments, archaeological sites, and sculptures. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under the Ministry of Culture, is responsible for implementing these protections.
  3. What are the main reasons behind the deterioration of heritage sites in India?
    • Heritage sites in India deteriorate due to both natural and anthropogenic causes. Natural causes include air pollution, changing temperatures, floods, biological factors, groundwater, salts, minerals, solar radiation, and moisture. Anthropogenic causes involve fire, urbanization, and vandalism.
  4. What challenges does India face in heritage conservation?
    • India faces challenges in heritage conservation, including a lack of skilled manpower, insufficient pre-disaster management, limited private sector involvement, and a shortage of resources addressing crucial conservation issues. Modern and traditional engineering methods are also lacking.
  5. What techniques are employed for heritage conservation in India?
    • Three main techniques for heritage conservation in India are:
      • Structural Conservation: Involves reinforcement of foundations, repairs to walls and ceilings, and removal of vegetation.
      • Chemical Conservation: Protects monuments from organic and inorganic gases, eliminates moss, algae, and lichens.
      • Awareness Programs: Include organizing seminars, events, and workshops nationwide, encouraging community participation to prevent vandalization.

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