HOSAPETE: Even as Vijayanagara district is gearing up to host the three-day G20 Sherpa Meet in Hampi from July 13, the authorities have come under heavy fire from various quarters for flouting UNESCO and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) norms. To prepare for the summit, the authorities are allowing heavy vehicles into restricted zones of the heritage site which could be a big risk to the safety of the monuments.
UNESCO and ASI prohibit the movement of any vehicle near Vijaya Vittala and Virupaksha temples. However, the administration recently used a crane to help clean the dome (gopura) of the Virupaksha temple. Also, local residents reported the movement of a tractor in the non-vibration zone near the Vijaya Vittala temple.
Officials, however, claimed that they are not violating any norms. “We have very less time to prepare for the G20 Sherpa Meet. As per ASI, no excavation or movement of vehicles is allowed in the heritage hub. The work is going on with care to prevent any damage to the monuments. Permission for the work has been taken from higher officials. We are using the crane to shift boulders and not to facilitate cleaning of the Virupaksha temple tower,” said Vijayanagara Deputy Commissioner T Venkatesh.
Prabhakara Joshi, a social activist and Hampi resident, said the norm is clear that no vehicle should be allowed in restricted and non-vibration zones. However, to prepare for the summit, the authorities have allowed the movement of a crane near Virupaksha temple and a tractor near Vijaya Vittala temple, he added.
“Only battery-powered buggies are allowed near the monuments, even during visits by VVIPs, but the authorities themselves have failed to follow the rules. The movement of cranes and tractors and vibrations from them could damage the fragile monuments. We are happy that the summit will be held here, but that does not mean that UNESCO protected site rules are flouted. The authorities should immediately stop the entry of heavy vehicles,” he said.