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Move to hand over ancient monuments to private firm opposed

OUR CORRESPONDENT
SIVASAGAR, May 2:  The Central Government’s proposed move to hand over three archaeological sites located in Sivasagar – the 18th century amphitheatre Rang Ghar, the Ahom royal palace Kareng Ghar and the Ahom-era Shiva Doul – to private firms has drawn sharp reactions from the Ahom Royal Society. The organization came down heavily as the Union Tourism Ministry has proposed to hand over Rang Ghar, Kareng Ghar and Shiva Dol of Sivasagar and the world heritage site Kaziranga National Park (KNP) to the Jungle Travels India (JTI) group under Central Government’s ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme to maintain them.
 Sharply reacting to the government’s move, Ahom Royal Society central working president Kamala Rajkonwar and Sivasagar district president MI Bora, in a press release said that the Central government and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had miserably failed to preserve the ancient monuments of the Ahom era. Though ASI has maintained a mere part of Rang Ghar, Talatal Ghar, Kareng Ghar and Charaideo Maidams, out of 551 ancient monuments spread across Sivasagar district, nearly 70 per cent ancient monuments are under severe threat of existence.
 They said, “Likewise monuments and structures of Mughal era, the ancient monuments built by the Ahoms needs to be preserved and maintained with beautification, and for this cause several organizations like Ahom Royal Society, ATASU, TAYPA have been repeatedly demanding the Central government and the ASI. But instead of responding to the demands of the people of Assam, the BJP-led government at the Centre has once again proved that the government is for the corporate sector only.”
 “We will never allow the government to hand over the archaeological sites to private party. If the government and ASI are unable to take care of the historical monuments, then hand over the Rang Ghar, Talatal Ghar, Kareng Ghar and the other monuments of Ahom era to Ahom Royal Society with the responsibility for their preservation,” they said.
Dibrugarh: Several members of the district committee of Tai Ahom Yuba Parishad, Assam (TAYPA), came out in vociferous protests on Wednesday against the Centre’s decision to outsource the maintenance of certain historical assets of the State, including Kaziranga National Park, Rang Ghar, Kareng Ghar and Shiva Dol of Sivasagar, to private agencies under the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme. The members of TAYPA gathered at the Chowkidinghee Field, and set the effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on fire in a mark of stiff resistance to the latest decision. They also opined that the decision only projected that the departments of Archaeology and Forest were not capable of the upkeep of the famous sites. However, instead of reinforcing the departments and building their capacity, the act of leasing out the responsibility to a third party was unacceptable, the members asserted. They, at the same breadth, also questioned if the private organizations had become more capable and resourceful than the government departments or agencies.
Apart from TAYPA, members of Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Parishad, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Sanmilan too clamoured against the recent move, and held it to be utterly unfortunate and disquieting.

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Ankur Kalita