NEW DELHI: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has started preparing a blueprint to revive its
Underwater Archaeology Wing (UAW), which has been defunct for about a decade. The development may lead to initiation of exploration projects at two significant sites — Ram Setu, off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, and the submerged ancient city of Dwarka beneath the Arabian ocean in Gujarat, said an official.
Alok Tripathi, an expert in underwater archaeology, has recently returned to ASI as additional director general (ADG) Archeology. He is likely to lead the division. “Discussions are on at the (culture) ministry level to reactivate the UAW and a draft for the same is being worked upon. ADG Tripathi will be handed over the charge of the department. He was at the helm till 2011-2012. The section was non-operational since his departure. The plans are afoot to launch exploration at Ram Set site but depending on the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment,” said the official.
The proposals to conduct archeological investigation at a couple of mythological sites --along the coast in Maharashtra and Odisha and in the Cauvery delta (Tamil Nadu) may also be considered. According to the ASI, underwater archaeology in India began around 1981. However, the UAW was established in 2001, which was actively engaged in conducting underwater archaeological studies mainly in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.
The officials said that a recent report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on transport, tourism and culture, submitted to the Rajya Sabha in February has acted as a catalyst in the revival of the Wing.
In its report, the committee had conveyed its displeasure over the defunct UAW.