Bhubaneswar: Voicing concern over safety
of the Sun Temple at Konark and alleged smuggling of antique
pieces from there, a body working for its protection on Sunday
demanded formation of an expert committee to supervise
preservation of the 13th century wonder.
Konark Surakshya Samiti, which has been spearheading a
movement for safety of the structure, also announced the plan
for an indefinite mass dharna at the temple until its demands,
including free entry into it on Saturdays are met.
Alleging the edifice was crumbling and its stones were
falling off due to negligence by ASI, Samiti president Sarat
Jay Singh said no concrete step was taken for conservation and
work done had been superficial, causing more harm than good.
While recommendations of various expert committees were
ignored, the basic need for a proper drainage system had not
been made causing submergence of major parts of the structure
during rains, Singh and Samiti Convenor Surendranath Mishra
told newsmen here.
"Waterlogging is weakening the foundations and the
superstructure of the temple," they said adding the cleansing
on the outside is being done by unskilled workmen, who use
rough brushes causing obliteration of many fine miniature
Though several memoranda were submitted to
Archaeological Survey of India, union ministers and the Orissa
government seeking formation of an expert committee with
representation of locals, the demands went unheeded, Singh
Though there are local skilled craftsmen, ASI,
adopting a careless and adamant stance, engages workers who
have little or no knowledge about sculptures, Jaya Singh
"ASI has not only rejected the plea for an expert
supervising committee, but is also doing conservation work as
per its whims, giving scope for misappropriation of funds
allocated for the temple," Singh and Mishra said.
The Samiti functionaries also highlighted the
religious significance of the place, known as "Arka Khestra",
and the temple as it was originally a place of worship of the
Sun god. Even though the main sanctum sanctorum of the temple
has broken down its religious significance remains intact,
The tradition of parikrama or going round the temple
has been hampered since 1996 when ASI introduced a fee of Rs 5
per person except on Fridays when entry was free, they said
adding the free entry was arbitrarily withdrawn and the entry
fee raised to Rs 10 by ASI in 2000.