In a first, Karnataka will use rural employment funds to develop heritage sites

In what authorities say is a one-of-a-kind initiative, the state government has decided to use funds from the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for the “protection and development” of heritage and archaeological sites. .

Karnataka has 1,453 protected monuments and “many sites are in a state of neglect due to lack of funds”, the government said in a circular.

Now, the shortage of funds will be met under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), which has funds to create jobs for semi-skilled and unskilled workers who are paid Rs 309 per day.

“Under this scheme, authorized works in and around heritage sites, such as clearing of jungle and construction of boundary walls, will be undertaken. Works will start after sites are identified,” said Additional Chief Secretary (Panchayat Raj) Uma Mahadevan. DH.

Under MGNREGA, the Union government spends Rs 6,680.60 crore annually to ensure employment of rural labor during the lean season, according to a joint circular issued by the departments of rural development and panchayat raj and tourism. “Karnataka spends Rs 1,352 crore which includes the state’s share of Rs 694 crore per annum under this scheme,” he said.

The two departments plan to use MGNREGA funds for works such as bio-fencing to protect monuments from intrusion and encroachment, restoration of kalyani/pushkarni/wells and eco-parks around protected monuments. The tourism department has offered to participate with funds to create facilities such as toilets and restaurants that are not covered by MGNREGA.

“This is a unique initiative that I don’t think any other state has done,” Rural Development Commissioner Shilpa Nag CT said. “All works that will be carried out through the gram panchayats under MGNREGA will be strictly in consultation with the Department of Tourism and the Archaeological Survey of India,” she stressed.

The 1,453 state protected monuments belong to different periods and include temples, mosques, churches, tombs, tombs, forts, citadels, wells, reservoirs, bridges, etc. Of these, 844 are protected by state law while 609 fall under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

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