Leh-Kargil set to expand its list of ASI protected sites

The Ministry of Culture is preparing a list of monuments in Leh and Kargil to be preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India and given protected status, Minister Prahalad Patel said on Thursday.

The region presently has 14 ASI protected sites -- 12 in Ladakh and two in Kargil.

The sites which are likely to be included are a set of three 50-feet statues in Kargil, which are a major attraction for tourists from countries where Buddhism is practised, and a 100-metre stretch in Leh lined with rock formations.

"We are preparing a list to expand the number of sites that are currently under ASI. Over the last two days we have received feedback from stakeholders and we have realised that there are many sites of historical importance which have not come under the radar of the ministry so far. We plan to prepare the list by November 1," Patel told.

Officials said the ministry is working with a deadline of November 1, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to formally announce the UT status of the two regions which were previously two districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

"When the PM announces initiatives of the Centre for the newly formed UTs, our ministries- tourism and culture will be ready to begin work from the very next day. We have already prepared a framework," the minister said.