The report indicates that while it is highly unlikely for a green signal to be given this month, there will be several precautions that will be prioritised to ensure the safety of visitors once the monuments are reopened for public.
The Ministry of Culture, in consultation with the ASI, is working on creating SOPs for all ASI-protected monuments, IE has reported on Friday quoting sources. The report indicates that while it is highly unlikely for a green signal to be given this month, there will be several precautions that will be prioritised to ensure the safety of visitors once the monuments are reopened for public.
Take the example of India’s most visited monument of love – the iconic Taj Mahal, which garners around six lakh visitors a day. Imagine the practical difficulties of managing a crowd like that on a daily basis and more importantly, implementing social distancing at a monument like the Taj Mahal.
Last week, a storm hit Agra and caused considerable damage to Taj Mahal’s marble railing. Following this, ASI officials and staff had to reach the spot in spite of the curfew to assess and document the damage caused by the storm during odd hours. Following the incident, all efforts are now underway to assess how the damage can be tackled and how SOPs are to be created once reopening of the Taj Mahal and other ASI-protected monuments is given a go-ahead from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
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An ASI official has been quoted as telling the Indian Express that all efforts have continued to ensure that minimal maintenance staff are available at all ASI protected monuments so as to also enable proper sanitation and horticulture activities around the premises along with cleaning at frequent intervals.
What safety precautions to expect at ASI protected monuments?
Visitors to all monuments will now have to maintain social distancing and basic hygiene norms. The IE report lists several precautionary measures that are likely to be taken to ensure the safety of all visitors. Monuments will initially open on alternate days and initially, the entry of visitors will be free.
E-ticketing may soon be the norm for issuing entry tickets to visitors. Ticket windows that are typically accessible for the public at all ASI-protected monuments may be done away with and e-ticketing is likely to be the way forward.
When ASI protected monuments open, what will be allowed, not allowed?
No more large groups of visitors will be permitted at monuments. The entry of letting in small groups inside may also become the norm. This would help to ensure there is no congestion inside and around the premises of the monument.
From a health and safety perspective, this also ensures that large gatherings of visitors are kept out from congesting the monument. Further, the sanitisation of premises will remain a priority.
However, monuments located in containment zones will not be opened to the public.