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Archaeological Survey of India ties itself up in knots, denies own directive on Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams

TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal told reporters in Tirumala that he had received a call from the Director General assuring him that no such study had been proposed in the first place.

Published: 06th May 2018 05:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th May 2018 05:59 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

VIJAYAWADA: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) ran into a controversy on Saturday with its Director General Usha Sharma denying directing the ASI Amaravati Circle to examine the feasibility of including Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) temples in Tirumala on the protected monuments list.

TTD Executive Officer Anil Kumar Singhal told reporters in Tirumala that he had received a call from the Director General assuring him that no such study had been proposed in the first place. “The DG told me that the ASI Vijayawada office has sent a communication to the TTD without her knowledge. She said it should never have been sent and that it stands withdrawn,” he said.

His announcement came hours after a letter sent by superintending archaeologist (Amaravati Circle) T Srilakshmi to him created a furore with Endowments Minister KE Krishna Murthy doubting the intent behind the move.

In her letter, Srilakshmi had cited a “communication from the directorate” to examine the feasibility of declaring the TTD and its group of temples in Tirumala protected monuments. She had sought the EO’s cooperation besides information on the temples. She confirmed the same to TNIE and claimed “two-three” officials would be sent for conducting the study.

Communication from the Archaeological Survey of India,
according to social activist BKSR  Ayyangar

After the EO’s announcement, she said, “Yes, it stands withdrawn. I am in no position to say anything more.” She immediately sent a letter to the EO claiming her earlier letter was sent “inadvertently”. But was it? The answer is no. She had sent the letter based on a directive from the ASI’s Director (Monuments). The ASI’s action came in response to RTI queries filed by social activist BKSR Ayyangar from Eluru. The story began when Ayyangar filed a writ petition in the High Court in 2010 seeking the declaration of TTD temples as “ancient and historical monuments, and archaeological sites”.

The High Court, in June, 2011, dismissed the petition saying, “Nothing prevents the petitioner to represent to the Government of India.” Subsequently, Ayyangar wrote a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office, Minister of Culture and others in August, 2011. “There was no response. So, I sent legal notices to the PMO, once in January, 2012, and again in January, 2013,” Ayyangar told TNIE.

Since there was no reply, he filed an RTI application in 2015, and one more on October 11, 2017 seeking information on the action taken with regard to his representation to bring TTD temples in Tirumala under the ASI’s protected monuments list. Later, on January 16, 2018, he sent an ‘appeal letter’ addressed to the Ministry of Culture seeking a reply to his RTI applications — which were forwarded to the Ministry by the PMO.

It was in response to this that the ASI office in New Delhi sent him a copy of an e-mail dated March 6 from N Taher, Director (Monuments) to the superintending archaeologist of ASI, Hyderabad Circle and also superintending archaeologist of Amaravati Circle Srilakshmi.

What does it say? “Shri Ayyangar has requested DG, ASI to protect or declare Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple and its Group of Temples located in Tirumala as of national importance. You are requested to inspect the site in light of AMASR Act, 1958 (as amended) and Rules 1959, and submit a detailed report along with photographs and offer your comments to this office for further action.”

Ayyangar has been fighting for including the TTD temples on the protected monuments list since 2010, citing the dismantling of the 1,000-pillar mandapam in Tirumala in 2003 and subsequent proposals such as gold-plating of outer walls of the sanctum sanctorum.

Commenting on the sudden turn of events, he told TNIE “Our heritage should be protected at any cost. Even though the ASI has withdrawn its decision, I will continue my legal battle.” Referring to the 1,000-pillar mandapam, he said if structures are demolished, new ones should be constructed in the same place with same old material. “TTD fears that its funding and properties may be taken over by the ASI. But that is a misplaced apprehension.

If included on protected monuments list, ASI will look after preservation of the ancient temples,” he clarified, adding that he would now go to court armed with a study by the Archaeology Department in 2014 which found TTD temples could be declared protected monuments.

In fact, in 2011, the Specified Authority — which was in place in the absence of the TTD Trust Board at that time — recommended to the State government to get the TTD and its temples on the protected monuments list. As of now, Srinivasa Mangapuram temple is already on the list. Meanwhile, before the ASI withdrew its letter, Endowments Minister KE Krishna Murthy said the ASI proposal raises suspicions over the Centre’s intentions.

“Any decision pertaining to Tirumala must be taken keeping in view the sentiments of the people. We are prepared to dispel any doubts anyone may have. We will discuss the issue with the Chief Minister. The TTD and the State government have the capacity to protect the temples,” he said.



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  • KSMurty

    It was apparently a deep rooted conspiracy of anti south BJP to grab Tirupati and establish their onward march to capture the south ro be made part of Hindi only project When Chandrababu Naidu was i their pocket they hitched the conspiracy and sent north Indian IAS officer and by bullying Naidu, they quietly sent their secret agent to prepare the ground for their onslaught. Other components of the conspiracy are unfolding now SO low is their meanness that they were caught with pants down in the first scene itself
    4 years ago reply
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