List of ASI protected sites in Leh, Kargil to be expanded: Patel

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 9/6/2019 12:55:15 AM

‘Will write to embassies to remove Ladakh from travel advisories’

LEH, Sep 5: The Ministry of Culture is preparing a list of monuments in Leh and Kargil to be preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India and given protected status, Union Minister for Culture and Tourism Prahalad Patel said on Thursday.
Patel also said he would write to all embassies to not include newly formed union territory of Ladakh in any advisory against travelling to Jammu and Kashmir.
The region presently has 14 ASI protected sites — 12 in Leh and two in Kargil.
The sites which are likely to be included are a set of three 50-feet statues in Kargil, which are a major attraction for tourists from countries where Buddhism is practised and a 100-metre stretch in Leh lined with rock formations.
“We are preparing a list to expand the number of sites that are currently under ASI. Over the last two days we have received feedback from stakeholders and we have realised that there are many sites of historical importance which have not come under the radar of the ministry so far. We plan to prepare the list by November 1,” Patel said.
Officials said the ministry is working with a deadline of November 1, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to formally announce the UT status of the two regions which were previously two districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
“When the PM announces initiatives of the Centre for the newly formed UTs, our ministries- tourism and culture will be ready to begin work from the very next day. We have already prepared a framework,” the minister said.
Patel, who is on a three-day visit to Leh, has also asked the ASI to finish all restoration work of sites there and also build amenities around them by November 1.
He also said that all monuments under ASI are going to be illuminated in the run up to the announcement by PM Modi.
There were 3,693 centrally protected monuments/sites under the ASI in the country presently which are preserved and maintained by the organisation.
Patel also said he will write to all embassies to not include newly formed union territory of Ladakh in any advisory against travelling to Jammu and Kashmir.
Patel's remarks come two days after tourism bodies in Ladakh asked him to tell the world that the union territory is no longer a part of strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir, to send out a message to the global community that the region is peaceful and safe for them to visit. “We will go back and write to embassies and tell them to not include Ladhak in their advisories, if any, against travelling to Jammu and Kashmir. The region is peaceful and safe for visit of international tourists,” he assured tourism stakeholders on the last day of his three-day visit to the region.
In a memorandum to the minister on Tuesday, the sector had urged the government to announce the "new geo-political" situation so that travel advisories over Kashmir issue do not affect Ladakh “negatively.” He said the formation of a union territory is a huge challenge not only for the government but also the people of Ladakh. “Please don't think that your issues will not be addressed. We won't take a step in the region without the consent of the stakeholders. While tourists want to see beauty, they also want peace. If we want to promote tourism, we need to build amenities. It will take time. We also need training institutes. Many things need to be worked out,” Patel said.
He also urged the sector to draft a tourism policy for the region in collaboration with the central ministry and said he would send a team to the region at any stage where coordination is required. “I promise you that various permissions that are needed here will be given in days and not in months,” he said. Taking into consideration demands made by stakeholders in both Leh and Kargil, Patel said that distribution of resources as well as investment in infrastructure will be equally divided between the two areas. The minister also announced the formation of a core group in the tourism ministry which in collaboration with the sector will draw out long term and short term plans for the region.



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