Excavation work under Ekamra Kshetra beautification drive done without informing ASI: Jt DG

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 3 (PTI) The Archaeological Survey of India Wednesday said that the Odisha government has not sought prior permission from the National Mission on Monument and Antiquities before undertaking excavation activities under the Ekamra Kshetra beautification drive in the state capital.

This was stated by ASI Joint Director General, NMMA, Sanjay Kumar Manjul, who visited the excavation site near Suka-Sari temple in the state capital to inspect the site after some workers engaged in Ekamra Kshetra beautification drive discovered an ancient stone structure, suspected to be part of an ancient temple buried under the earth, last month.

'Excavation of the site near Suka-sari temple was done without informing the Archaeological Survey of India,' Manjul said, adding that one has to see the prima facie after looking at the pictures of the previous and the present situation.

He was here to verify if any damage was caused to the heritage site during the recent excavation work. Manjul's visit came after Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan urged the Centre to rush a team of experts to oversee whether the newly found stone structure was part of an ancient temple.

The stone, which has inscription of arts, came to the light while the Odisha Bridge and Construction Corporation Limited and Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) started excavation as part of the Ekamra Kshetra beautification work.

According to the rules, the 100 metres area from the protected monument like Lord Lingaraj Temple is a protected area while no activities can be carried out within 300 meters from the main monument. However, the rules are not followed while undertaking the excavation near Suika-sari temple, which is also close to Lord Lingaraj Temple.

ASI is the custodian of the Suka-Sari temples (10th- 11th Somavamshi period), and these shrines are protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (AMASR Act).

ASI Superintending Engineer Arun Malick said that the state agencies engaged in the Ekamra Kshetra beautification drive should share the master plan with the ASI which should be studied by the experts in ASI headquarters before starting work in the heritage zone. PTI AAM RG RG