BHUBANESWAR:Amid ongoing controversy over the measures undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for conservation of Sun Temple at Konark, the State Government on Tuesday asked for an action taken report (ATR) from ASI in this regard by December 15.
A decision to this effect was taken at a high level meeting presided by Tourism and Culture Minister Ashok Chandra Panda at the Secretariat here. Panda told this paper that the ATR submitted by the ASI will be examined by an expert committee to be constituted by the Culture department.
The Minister said the Government will soon write to the Director General of ASI to convene a steering committee meeting to be presided by him to verify and check allegations of replacement of stones from Konark temple as remedial measures.
The ASI had convened international conferences in 1997 and 2010 over conservation and beautification of the Konark temple, a World Heritage site.Several recommendations were made in these conferences, the Minister said and added that the State Government has sought an ATR from the ASI on how far those have been implemented. Panda said the ASI, which has undertaken preservation of the Humayun’s tomb at New Delhi, has replaced the damaged stones of the monument with sculpturally designed stones. But the ASI Act does not permit such replacements, he said and added that a deviation has been made in this case.
Panda maintained that the Odisha Government will request the ASI to replace damaged stones in Konark temple with sculpturally designed stones.
“If a deviation from Act can be made in the case of Humayun tomb, why it cannot be made for Konark temple?,” he asked.However, ASI Superintendent Arun Mallick maintained that not a single stone of the Sun Temple has been replaced. “The ASI has filled up the blank spaces in the temple with plain stones,” he said.
Referring to a news item in a local daily, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had written to Union Minister of State for Culture Mahesh Sharma that 40 per cent of the artistic stone carvings of the Sun Temple have been replaced by the ASI with plain stones. “The ASI needs to focus more on conservation of the temple and its arts and aesthetic values,” he said and requested the Minister to order an inquiry into the matter and ask the ASI to take immediate steps for preservation and conservation of the World Heritage monument.