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Conservation and preservation of monuments

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Awareness towards heritage sites and tourism sector open more opportunities for private players

You read that acid rain is destroying the marble of the Taj Mahal. You were told that the earthquake in Bhuj, Gujarat damaged many historical buildings in 2001. You can see that some illegal occupation and total

indifference by authorities have rendered your local town’s fort in a ramshackle condition. Don’t worry, there seems to be some light.

Indian Hotels Company signed a MoU with the National Cultural Fund (NCF) in 2001 and funded the project of conservation of the Taj Mahal executed by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) undertook many programs ranging from compiling reports, hosting workshops and executing conservation processes in Bhuj. At the same time, there is hope for any building or monument that has some history attached to it, to claim attention for its conservation—even if it is not listed as a monument.


History and National Importance of Monuments
The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958 supervises the legal formalities associated with the conservation of historical and archaeological monuments in India. This is "an Act to provide for the preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance, for the regulation of archaeological excavations and for the protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects."

Some types of jobs involved in conservation
Grouting by pressure and gravity
Pointing, types of pointing
Rock bolting, filleting and edging
Inlay work
Stucco work
Tile work
Glass work/mirror work/stained glass work
Monitoring of cracks (tell-tales and strain gauges)
Plastering (walls and ceilings), lathing, packing with lime concrete and surface treatment, water tightening the tops, purity of water

According to this Act, an "ancient monument" means any structure, erection or monument, or any tumulus or place of interment, or any cave, rock-sculpture, inscription or monolith which is of historical, archaeological or artistic interest and which has been in existence for not less than 100 years.

Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), State/Central bodies protect monuments that are of national importance. These monuments are called "protected monuments", which mean ancient monuments that are declared to be of national importance by or under this Act. There are 3650 ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance, which are protected by ASI. Overall, there are around 8,000 monuments protected by the government, which include temples, mosques, tombs, churches, cemeteries, forts, palaces, step-wells, rock-cut caves, and secular architecture as well as ancient mounds and sites which represent the remains of ancient habitation.

Projects funded by WMF in India
The Isa Khan Complex is a walled area adjacent to Humayan’s tomb and is the resting place of Isa Khan Niyazi, a noble of influence at the court of Sher Shan Suri.
JAISALMER FORT, Jaisalmer, India
LEH PALACE, Leh, India
NAKO TEMPLES Kinnaur Region, India
QUILA MUBARAK, Patiala, India
SAINT ANNE CHURCH Talaulim, Goa, India
Located at 12,700 feet above sea level in a remote part of the Himalayas, the village of Sumda Chun is accessible only by a three to four hour hike up a steep and winding river valley trail.
TAJ MAHAL, Agra, India

However, there are huge numbers of unprotected structures that need conservation. Apart from that, monuments inherited by public and private bodies throughout India also require conservation process. Some unverified numbers give a figure of 800,000 monuments in India apart from the ones that are protected. Conservation of these sites throws a wide market of opportunities for private companies.

Opportunities for Private Companies
ASI and State/Central departments oversee the conservation work of sites, however, public and private owners of buildings and sites can directly collaborate with NGOs and private companies for the conservation and preservation of their property.

The conservation process may throw opportunities is these areas: inspection and diagnostic services; salvaging, transplantation, reconstruction and restoration of monuments; material used in conservation ranging from brick, lime to wood and metals; labor and masonry work-force; scaffolding, water-proofing and foundation laying materials, architectural consultancy; and monitoring services.

Amita Baig, heritage management consultant, mentioned the opportunities in the field of research and development. She said that technology is being imported and tested on Indian monuments without building infrastructure and proper research and development facilities. So, Indian architects and consultants can explore the possibilities of gaining expertise in newer technologies and grow their market value.

What process, agencies like ASI and state archaeological departments, adopt while empanelling private consultants?
Both Central and State Governments advertise for empaneling not only architects but other specialization in conservation. Once empaneled, these experts are invited to submit bids for different projects as and when they are identified. Selection is done firstly on technical capability and then financial bids are opened.

Amita Baig
Heritage Management Consultant

Apart from consultancy, what are the other areas where private players can have business opportunities while collaborating with these agencies?
The heritage property is a nation’s pride and any investment has to be developed on that premise. Opportunities for the corporate sector would be in the form of sponsorships for restoration and conservation, and it could be in the service sector for providing infrastructure (toilets, shuttles, cafeterias, etc), publications and communications.

Do Indian consultants and architects have opportunities in conservation processes done in foreign countries?
Indian consultants and architects do have the opportunities but it is for them to compete in the international market. Indian specialists are not building capacities or skills but rather adopting existing ones, using historic methods and have yet to develop path-breaking techniques and skills and therefore don’t have an edge in the international market. Also, if a few conservation specialists in India devote even five years on a site, it would give them the edge over many foreign consultants. There is also no investment in research and development.

What future change can be envisaged in terms of technology adopted for conservation process and can some Indian companies tap on that technology change?
Perhaps research and development would be a huge opportunity for Indians to build scientific skills. Specialization in conservation today is akin to medicine; each facet has a specialist, like even termite treatment in a historic building. Today, the knowledge is being imported and tested on Indian buildings without adequate research and development as to whether it will suit our climatic conditions. In the absence of serious research, many of our monuments are either not getting the best skill or at worst are being experimented upon.

As an established consultant, what advice would you like to give to the private companies or independent consultants who are looking to enter this market?
I believe that this sector cannot sustain without increased partnership, financial, technical and management. There is a tendency, however, amongst this profession to flit in and out of projects. The difference with the specialists engaged in say Angkor Wat, is that they live and breathe the project site. Having spent so many years in this field, I think that is the only way forward. It is my belief that the heritage needs long-term commitment and not short-term prescriptions. For that, there needs to be a passion for the monument, its challenges and its sustainability.

Outsourcing of conservation work
ASI, State/Central bodies, and public and private ownerships like to outsource the conservation process to private companies. They adopt a selection process of empaneling private players and supervising the work with the help of internal teams; public or private bodies may outsource the work directly.

Comments (8)Add Comment
Pinestrip Flooring
written by kenny gilmour, March 13, 2011
I have a wood restoration company in the UK and there is nothing more satisfying than restoring old wood furniture, fireplaces, floors, stairs and banisters to their former glory. It is criminal to tear down pieces of our history for the sake of modern developments.
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written by preethi k mokshagundam, February 25, 2011
preserving and conserving the old monuments of India heritage is not a matter of trade but a matter of passing our culture and tradition to the next generation ,i suggest that restoration of such sites and building should not commercialized but rather be an opportunity to private company to adopt these sites or buildings as one of the pro grammes under corporate social responsibility,bring about awareness among the youngsters to appreciate the rich culture India has to offer to the world.
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Save it...!!
written by Amogh Madan, February 05, 2011
These monuments are the places from which our nation is being made proud of....!!
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written by replica watches, October 08, 2010
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employ conservators
written by shikha, August 19, 2010
I feel indian monuments need good skiled people which neither ASI nor INTACH empoly..... rather work has been shifted in hands of sub contractor and unskilled labour. com'n guys we have enough skilled people looking for work in this field. Its high time now break this lobby leave corruption and pity our heritage....
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making old monuments attractive
written by anjali, March 05, 2010
It is indeed a real pity that old monuments , which are the pride of india are totally neglected and left to their fate .with weeds and moss growing on them and their bwalls cracking ....It is good if people can contribute to their the eantime,visists to monuments can be made more meaningful and attractive for tourists, by staging theatrical reconstructions of incidents that have happened in the past, related to that monument....for exaamples, mock battles that may be linked with a particular fort or palace or a mock court in session or someoen dressed up as a king actually walking down the corridors of the monument with courtiers around.... it would make the monument come alive and be more attractive to tourists ..!!
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