12-foot Wall Around Shrine a ‘Safety’ Issue, but ASI Refuses to Budge

Published: 09th January 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th January 2015 05:02 AM   |  A+A-

KARKALA: With hectic arrangements on for the Maha Mastakabhisheka of Bahubali statue here, the organising committee is worried that while the town will attract over 5 lakh people, the shrine has only one entrance.

The three-foot wide entrance is also the exit for the shrine which is enclosed by a 12-foot high wall.

With Jain pilgrims from Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal and Rajasthan expected to visit the small town, the committee members think it is impossible to ensure their safety as there is no second exit.

The organisers pointed out that during the 2003 Maha Mastakabhisheka, there were no walls on the sides of the entrance. This helped devotees have unhindered darshan of the Bahubali during the ‘Dharmadarshana’. But now the 12-foot wall fully encloses the shrine except the narrow door.

The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) after the last Maha Mastakabhisheka had built the wall, the members pointed out.

The office-bearers of the Maha Mastabhisheka committee have appealed to the ASI to dismantle the walls for the occasion and rebuild it after the end of the event.

“We have cited the safety aspect of the event in our appeals to the ASI. Union Minister Sadananda Gowda, MPs, MLAs and even Jain community leaders have appealed to the ASI but they appear to be unmoved,” said Suvrath Kumar, a committee office-bearer. He told Express that district officials have inspected the site and were convinced about the safety, but ASI appears to be firm on its stand - not to permit the dismantling of the walls.

The event will be a high security event as BJP president Amit Shah and a few union ministers have confirmed their visit.

ASI officials point out that the wall is a part of the shrine and cannot be dismantled for whatever reasons.

“We don’t allow even minor changes to the construction or the material used for construction. How can we allow the dismantling of the entire wall?” officials told Express.

The committee has promised to pay all the expenses that the ASI will incur to dismantle and rebuild the wall. “It was definitely a safety risk,” says senior Jain leader Gunapal Kadamba.


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