The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Monday launched a revamped version of the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ programme apart from an Indian Heritage app and an e-permission portal.
Initially launched in 2017 under the Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with the ASI which invited corporate stakeholders to adopt from over 3,000 protected monuments spread across the country, ‘Adopt a Heritage 2.0’, is the upgraded version of ‘Adopt a Heritage’ programme. The programme encourages corporate stakeholders to utilise their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds to enhance facilities at historically-important monuments.
The app, on the other hand, provides a comprehensive guide to monuments under ASI’s ambit. It lists historical structures along with pictures, public facilities available on site and geo-tagged locations.
The e-permission portal has been designed to simplify and speed up the process for acquiring approvals for photography, filming, and developmental initiatives concerning heritage monuments, with the goal of expediting the permission-granting process.
The Adopt a Heritage 2.0 has incorporated a host of changes to the programme after a leaner management and supervision structure for the partner agencies, clear guidelines for semi-commercial activities and detailed scope of work and amenities required for monuments was proposed in the earlier version. 1,000 additional monuments have also been added to the list for adoption.
Earlier, the corporate partners’ proposed visions and expression of interest would go through two levels of scrutiny via three committees. Corporate partners were also encouraged to adopt smaller monuments or “low visibility sites” along with the monuments they adopted. However, according to the Additional Director General of the ASI, Gurmeet Chawla, these policies were not met with enthusiastic response and would often prevent companies from adopting monuments altogether.
In the updated programme, more freedom has been given to companies such as the option to either adopt a monument in whole and develop its tourism infrastructure, or provide a particular amenity such as drinking water facility or cleaning services for one or several sites.
“Work pertaining to heritage sites needs a lot of creativity and cannot be straitjacketed,” said an official from the Ministry of Tourism.
“There were a lot of restrictions as well on what they could construct on the site and the timings for their work; all of that has been looked into in the new programme,” they said.
According to ASI officials, permissible activities have been now clearly stated as per the The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act.
ASI ADG Chawla said a collaborative approach with private sector organisations is to encourage corporates to utilise their CSR funds. He said only 0.72% of CSR funds go into heritage conservation, and the Adopt a Heritage programme hopes to raise that number further.