BENGALURU: Four years after the state government declared 14 places as ‘Heritage Cities’, the government is yet to get an inventory report that meets its standards and start the work on protecting heritage monuments.
The reason is that ADEI, a Hubballi-based private agency, has not met the standards in preparing an inventory of all those places and allegedly used images and texts from Google to prepare the inventory of heritage cities.
Interestingly, the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, released the entire fund of `50 lakh to ADEI even before receiving the inventory, in violation of the tender norms.
Therefore, Dr R Gopal, the then Commissioner of Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, had sought an investigation into the matter and necessary action against the erring authorities.
In response to this, the Secretary, Department of Kannada and Culture, on February 9, asked H T Talwar, the Director of Museums, to investigate the matter and submit the report.
However, though Talwar asked C G Betsurmath, the then Commissioner of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, to cooperate with the investigation by providing all necessary documents during his visit on February 19, he later made a U-turn.
Two days after his first letter, Talwar wrote another letter to the Secretary saying that he cannot hold investigation against the Commissioner as he is a higher-ranked official. The Secretary himself can seek a report from the head of the department, Talwar said, while expressed his inability.
Since then, there has been no progress in the investigation.
C G Betsurmath, who was Commissioner for Archaeology, Museums when the work was awarded to ADEI, told Express that the work was awarded through tender. The payment was done as per the norms. Accordingly, the inventory report was submitted by Geethanjali Rao, Director, ADEI Institute, Hubballi.
Geethanjali Rao refuted the allegations that they did not prepare the report as per required standards and used text and maps from Google. “We have submitted both hard and soft copy in November 2015 itself to the department and accordingly, payment was received,” she said.
However, Dr R Gopal, Director of Museums, who first sought an investigation into the matter when he was the Commissioner of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, said that the inventory report does not meet the standards as it was prepared without visiting the Heritage Cities.
It is not in an acceptable format. Some of the pages provided in the report are downloaded from Google. About `5,000 has been charged per page downloaded from the Google, he added.
When contacted, S R Umashankar, Principal Secretary, Department of Kannada and Culture, said that he had asked Manjula, Commissioner in-charge of the department, to look into the issue. “I will discuss the matter with her and take further action,”, he told Express.