17 Delhi monuments will continue to shine at night


New Delhi : The 17 monuments, illuminated 24×7 for the benefit of the Commonwealth Games visitors, will continue to shine at night even though the mega-sporting has come to a close.

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“The permanent illumination of the 17 monuments in the capital introduces a new dimension on whether they should be thrown open to people,” Secretary of Culture Jawhar Sircar told IANS.

The idea takes into account various components of heritage conservation, Sircar said.

“It raises security consideration which requires additional manpower, better maintenance and enhanced amenities for visitors at night. There are several issues which the ministry has to look into before the illuminated monuments can be opened to public at night,” he said.

Additional manpower does not entail more recruitment, Sircar said.

“We will have to position our existing manpower in such a way that it meets the conservation needs of monuments at night. Manpower for conservation does not work that way – one need not induct more people for the job. It requires planning and training,” Sircar said.

The conservation of historic monuments in Delhi has not been a one-off initiative for the Games, Sircar said.

“Conservation has been an ongoing process. We have been conserving monuments of Delhi for several years now. We spend nearly Rs.6 crore every year for the upkeep of monuments. But we have spent Rs.20 crore in the last two years keeping in mind the Games. Most of the money has been spent on routine maintenance, restoration and improvement of infrastructure of the 46 identified monuments. The money was also used for illuminating 17 monuments,” Sircar said.

The restoration and upgradation work of the monuments was implemented by the Archaeological Survey of India and the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), Sircar said.

“The culture ministry also refurbished 16 spaces under its jurisdiction like the National Museum, National Gallery of Modern Art, ASI, National Archives of India, Lalit Kala Akademi and several others,” Sircar said.

“The ministry tried to keep a low profile throughout the Games because the event belonged to the Delhi government,” the culture secretary said.

“Now that the Games are over, the Delhi government has to decide what it wants to do with the exhibitions and cultural (tangible art and culture) showcases that had been created under the Delhi Celebrates 2010 exposition package,” Sircar said.

Citing statistics, Sircar said of the 174 monuments in the city, 46 have been selected for “beautification, refurbishing and for the installation of better civic amenities”.

These monuments comprise three world heritage sites, seven ticketed monuments and 36 smaller monuments.

He said the estimated cost of renovation was Rs.25.73 crore and no special funding was provided by the Planning Commission.

The funds were released by the ministry of culture for these works by “foregoing expenditure on certain other items under the Minor Works (Plan)”.

“The government is planning major initiatives to promote Indian art and improve the country’s image as a major arts destination and growth centre,” he said.