Patna: Faced with a threat of the heritage status of the world-famous Mahabodhi temple being taken away due to construction of illegal structures in its surroundings, the Bodh Gaya nagar panchayat has decided to launch a beautification drive.
Over 150 illegal structures, which have come up within the 3.3 metres of the temple`s boundary where construction is banned, have been identified for demolition, Bodh Gaya Nagar panchayat Chief Executive Officer Shyam Bihari Mishra told PTI.
``Over 100 buildings with illegal extensions in the buffer zone and over 50 other constructions in the core zone around the Mahabodhi temple have blocked long-distance view of the beautiful temple,`` he said.
Mishra said the process for issuing notices to the buildings` owners has been set rolling.
Mishra, however, denied that there was a threat of withdrawal of the heritage status granted by the UNESCO, but said a committee of officials of the Paris-based UN agency had recently visited Bodh Gaya town and proposed beautification around the temple.
The committee, he said, had not suggested any action plan for refurbishing the area around the temple, but the Bodh Gaya Nagar panchayat has on its own decided to implement a master plan for beautifying the area.
"It is our duty to restore the long distance visibility of the Mahabodhi temple by removing illegal structures and also to prevent the holy town from becoming an urban slum," Mishra said.
The drive to refurbish the area has, meanwhile, met resistance by owners of the buildings who have demanded that they be allowed to legalise the constructions.
A Bodh Gaya nagar panchayat member Ajay Singh, who is lending support to the local residents united under the banner of `Atikraman Bachao Andolan (ABA), defended construction of buildings, saying it was done after getting sanction of local authorities.
"It will be a grave injustice to the local people if the authorities demolish their structures after earlier allowing them to construct their buildings," he said.