The Union Culture Ministry has approved the opening up of more than 820 protested monuments and sites that fall under the Archeological Survey of India(ASI). These are going to be monuments and sites protected by the ASI which have places of worship inside their premises. These sites would be open to the public from June 8 onwards following an extensive countrywide lockdown that had begun in March.
The news was confirmed by the Union Culture Minister, Prahlad Patel who tweeted, “Today the culture ministry has approved the opening of 820 of its living monuments under the ASI from June 8. All protocols issued by the MHA and the health ministry will be followed.”
The culture ministry’s decision of opening up monuments to the public after a prolonged phase of lockdown includes only those sites that have places of worship within their premises or are used for religion events such as the Nila Mosque at Hauz Khaz enclave, the Qutub archeological area and Lal Gumbad in Delhi among others.
There are over 3,000 monuments and sites in India that are protected by the ASI.
In view of the rapidly rising coronavirus cases, more than 3,691 centrally protected monuments that are maintained by the ASI were shut down for the public on March 17 and have remained closed ever since in keeping with the nationwide lockdown.
The list of ASI monuments that have places of worship within them include 114 from the northern parts of India, 155 from the central parts, 120 from western parts, 100 from the eastern and 279 from the southern parts of the nation. The cities that have the highest number of such monuments are Vadodara(77), Chennai(75), Dharwad(73) and Bengaluru(69).
The Union Ministry has also announced that from June 8 onward, hotels and restaurants, places of worship and malls and marketplaces will be open as part of the first phase of the unlocking process.
A series of guidelines and instructions were released by the MHA for the opening up which include hygiene protocols, thermal screening provisions at entrances, mandatory masks etc.
The MHA also said that the order to manage the queue and ensure social distancing inside the premises, specific rules have been put in place and sufficient distance along with separate points for entry and exit must be organised for visitors and it must be ensured that there is a 6 feet distance between them at all times.
Individuals above the age of 65 years and immuno-compromisd people have been asked to stay at home at all times.