A parliamentary panel has suggested that the Centre should explore the option of allowing worship at Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)-protected monuments with "religious significance" if it can be ensured that it won't harm their conservation. The recommendation was made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism, and Culture in its report on 'Issues relating to Untraceable Monuments and Protection of Monuments in India.'
The committee acknowledges the profound religious importance of numerous historical monuments across the country and believes that permitting religious activities at these sites could fulfill the legitimate aspirations of the people. However, they emphasize that any such permissions should be granted only if it can be established that they will not adversely affect the conservation and preservation of the monuments, as reported by PTI.
In response, the Ministry of Culture has noted the recommendations for exploration, stating that the policy decision generally discourages the revival of worship at sites where it was not in practice at the time of protection or has been abandoned for an extended period.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) clarifies that according to the AMSAR Act, if a site was not religious or did not have religious activities when taken over by the ASI, worship is not allowed. However, if religious practices were customary at the time of ASI custody, they are permitted. Examples include the Taj Mahal, where Friday prayers are allowed, and Lingaraja Temple in Odisha, where puja is permitted due to its historical practice.
The committee also expresses disappointment with the Ministry of Culture's perceived lack of seriousness in responding to critical issues raised in its recommendations, emphasizing the need for more dedicated attention to these matters.