CUTTACK: Putting to rest the dispute over carrying out of photography business within the precincts of the Sun Temple at Konark, a single judge bench of the Orissa High Court has ruled that persons having licence issued by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), should only be allowed to operate. The ruling assumes significance as there has been unchecked access of over a 100 photographers into the 13th century world heritage site for carrying out business, leading to chaotic situations.
The ruling came on Wednesday on a petition filed by photographers who have licence issued by ASI to do business in the Sun temple precincts. They sought the court’s intervention alleging that unchecked access of photographers without a valid licence into the Sun temple has been adversely affecting their livelihood.
The ASI being the custodian of the protected monument issues the licence to the photographers after a selection process that involves different phases of tests in addition to eligibility criteria, it was contended.
While disposing of the petition, Justice Arindam Sinha said that apart from tourists, only those who have valid licence for purpose of conducting photography in precincts of protected monument are to be allowed to enter. “This must be complied with by ASI with assistance of the administration. The necessity for compliance cannot be overemphasized because such monuments are ancient and therefore need to be protected”, Justice Sinha said. Justice Sinha issued the order after taking into consideration Superintending Archeologist of ASI (Bhubaneswar Circle) Arun Malik’s affidavit and submission of ASI’s counsel Chandrakanta Pradhan.
In his affidavit, Malik said that a selection process according to policy was undertaken by the Regional Director (eastern region), Kolkata, in January 2019 and only 10 candidates were selected. After selection, licence was issued to them for carrying out photography business at the temple. “The Tourism department had also intimated on January 20, 2021, that no candidates have been issued photography licence for the Konark temple”, Malik said in the affidavit.