VIJAYAWADA: Scarcity of funds has not only hit major infrastructure projects but also put renovation of several archaeological sites in State on the backburner. One such example is that of the Undavalli Caves, which is yet to undergo renovation.
Speaking to TNIE, archaeological commissioner Vani Mohan said, "Rs 1 crore was sanctioned for the caves’ restoration work by the former TDP government prior to the elections. However, the present government gave directions to put the project on hold. We also sent a proposal to them to ensure that the works resume soon. We expect it will be accepted as the issue was discussed in the recent review meeting conducted between the Chief Minister and officials of tourism and archeological departments."
Mohan also said that Rs 30 lakh and Rs 40 lakh were sanctioned for restoring Akkana Madanna and Moghalrajpuram Caves, respectively, which at present are filled with garbage and nests of bats, owls.
The commissioner has cited inability to pay the contractors, as the reason for not being able to go ahead with the renovation projects.
"Contractors are yet to receive payments for projects renovated earlier such as Kondapalli Fort, Bapu Museum. As a result, the contractors are not ready to work on new projects as they are not confident of being paid."
She added that 95 per cent of the restoration works have been completed at Bapu Museum. "The museum, which was supposed to be reopened for the visitors by November, will take another four to six months as the government doesn’t have funds to pay the workforce needed to run the museum."
Mohan also said that a businessman from Hyderabad had decided to undertake renovation at Undavalli Caves as part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity. "Under the adopt a heritage programme started by the Union Ministry of Tourism, the builder had accepted to renovate Undavalli Caves," she said.
However, he backed out stating political instability at the national and State level.
The commissioner has also proposed to set up an archaeological corporation, similar to tourism and Bhavani Island corporation so that the problem of funds can be permanently solved. "Corporations get funds sanctioned during the State Budget sessions for the development of their area of expertise, for which the corporation is working for. Having an archaeological corporation will help renovate other historic places which will, in turn, boost the State’s tourism sector," Mohan opined. "Once the works are complete, the money collected through ticket sales will be sufficient for the maintenance of these sites," she concluded.