HYDERABAD: At a time when the discoveries from Keezhadi excavation site in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, has sparked off a debate on the Dravidian culture, the Archaeological Survey of India - Hyderabad circle does not have any funds to take on excavation works in the State. The last excavation works that the ASI had initiated was in 2018, at the Janampet burial site in Bhadradri Kothagudem. According to ASI, the works began on May 7, 2018 and had to be closed prematurely on May 31, ‘due to consumption of allotted funds’. While Rs 10 lakh was asked for the project, only Rs 2 lakh was approved by the ASI headquarters in New Delhi.
During those three weeks, the ASI partially excavated three sarcophagi, and a cist burial entombed with stone circles, and thus only its layout could be understood. Needless to say, the ASI has planned further excavation at the site but faces a crunch in cash flow from its headquarters.
During the last excavation, an ASI official said, majority of the Rs 2 lakh was spent only on labour costs. “Almost 85 per cent of the funds were spent on labour. The remaining funds were not enough to continue excavating properly,” the official said, adding that only ascertaining the date of each sample costs Rs 40,000.
Now, even if its headquarters were to sanction the money, the ASI will be facing other hurdles like lack of manpower and financial restrictions. “Now that all labour is employed on a contract basis, rules are that their payment have to be directly made into their bank accounts,” the official explained, “As a result, the labourers are often forced to travel miles to access a bank for their payment, and not every labourer has an account or even an identification document.”
The ASI, as of now, have two excavation sites in Telangana, at Kondapur and Janampet. While, the one in Kondapur is related to Satavahanas, which is well-researched, the site in Janampet, if documented properly, could unearth answers.
However, the works were stopped because of lack of funds and other labour-related issues that the ASI was facing at the time. Another ASI official said that while the conservation body had asked for Rs 8 lakh for the project, the head quarters had approved only Rs 2 lakh.