Bhubaneswar: The State Commissioner of Endowments, in a letter to the Director General of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Wednesday have, pointed out the lapses and negligence of the ASI authorities, Odisha Circle, towards preservation and conservation of the Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar.
While the Lingaraj temple has been declared centrally protected monument under the provision of sec-3 of the Ancient Monument Preservation Act 1904 and subsequent amended Ancient Monuments Archaeological Sites and Remains Act – 1958 and rules 1959, the Oriss Hindu Religious Endowments Act, 1951 is enacted for the better administration and governance of Hindu religious institutions and endowments in the State.
Endowments Commissioner Chitaranjan Mohapatra alleged that the ASI officials seldom consult the Commissioner of Endowments, the temple trust or the public before undertaking any news construction or preservation and conservation work inside the temple premises. Though it has been reported that the ASI made a topographical survey of the temple but no site plan if prepared has been provided to the trust board.
“It seems that the ASI does not have any updated and approved conservation, restoration, repairing and preservation policy to address the issues of this old temple. The ASI needs to enhance the use of modern scientific technology, build capacity of its officials and sufficient manpower to ensure better conservation and restoration of Lingaraj temple,” Mohapatra added.
He further said that there is an absence of any prescribed criteria for prioritisation of monuments which requires conservation works. As a result, monuments are selected arbitrarily for carrying out conservation works. Odisha people feel ASI authorities should take proper care of the Lingaraj temple, which holds immense religious significance.
“The pinnacle of the main temple has developed cracks. Those, who tie ?ags atop the temple every day, had also drawn the attention of the ASI authorities about the cracks. The cracks of Dadhinauti of the main temple requires immediate repair. The divine and semi divine images surrounding and decorating the walls of the temple which are in broken and damaged condition needs to be restored or replaced or repaired by expert designers and best engineers of ASI,” said Mohapatra.
There is urgent requirement of repair of leakage of rainwater in the joints of main temple, goddess Parvati and its jagmohan, rosasala and its passage, Bhogmandap, Biswakarma temple, Bhubaneswari temple, Ekambreswar temple, Ugraswarmahadev temple, Ganesh temple, he added.
For lack of adequate and proper maintenance measures with passage of time most of the temples in the complex have developed cracked walls and water seeps through them in rainy season.
The old temple suffers from neglect. There is no protection from rain, hot sun and other weathering agents. The old temple is becoming weak and dull due to weathering and the effect of pollution and has degraded over time.
The domes and outer wall of the main structure and smaller shrines on the temple premises can be seen being layered by algae and vegetation at many portions. If not cleared on time, the structure may get weakened and develop cracks. It is reported that the ASI earlier used to clear it every year during the annual cleaning process which has not undertaken by them, since last 4 to 5 years. In absence of proper preservation & conservation practice the temple structure is slowly falling prey to threats from nature.
“Proper care of the monuments enhances their life. The ADM (Interim Managing Trustee) and the Executive Of?cer of the institution have reported that despite regular complaints the ASI authorities, Odisha circle, have not taken any tangible step for the repair work of the temple and what worries them is that there is every possibility of stone falling incident in Lingaraj temple akin to what had taken place earlier at Jagannath temple Puri,” claimed Mohapatra.
It is reported by the executive of?cer that the ASI though assured and agreed not undertaking the work of wet cleaning through machine in the morning and dry cleaning in the afternoon at Lingaraj Temple expect garbhagruha and bhogamandap which is agreed to be cleaned manually.
The executive of?cer further reports that the ASI is not undertaking the cleaning work of daily Garbagruha and BhogMandap by lime and alum in order to prevent emission of foul smell, he added.
Mohapatra further said that the Nala or cannel leading from Paduka Nala and falling in Papanasini pond is choked and damaged as a result the ASI authorities have dug a temporary pit for discharge of the water coming from sanctum sanctuary and no efforts are taken by the ASI to revive the ?ow to Papanasini pond which has its own ritualistic importance.
He also alleged that the ASI has not ?xed any steel gate at Nisha Parbati, Nisha Ganesh and Nisha Kartikas such they are open and prone to regular theft of saree and other articles placed to such deities as such steel gates are required to be installed to have a control of open access to such deity. The repair of railing of nisakartik is wanting.
About 10 to 12 staffs were being earlier deputed by ASI to LingraJ temple for its general maintenance but presently only 2 to 3 staffs are attending such work. The ASI is yet to complete of replacement of earthing and its connection in lord Lingaraj temple on priority basis.
Both the panel doors of lion gate are found bend and are to be replaced. Wall from lions gate to chachanimandap of the boundary wall was broken for ?xation of steel bar. The work has been suspended and not progressing till now. Door of the southern gate of the temple is damaged due to cracks in the lintel of the gate which endangers the passage of devotees and requires repair.
The ?oor stone of garbhagruha has become damaged and slippery resulting in rise of accidental falls and requires immediate replacement. Similarly the stone ?ooring of the other portions 0f the temple and its premises are uneven raising upward and downwards at places for which the devotees many a time stumble and fall down. As such the flooring of the entire temple and its premises requires renovation/change.
The Endowments Commissioner also informed that tropical storm Fani also has caused massive destruction to temple and its properties, but the ASI did not show any promptness nor till date has accessed the damages actually caused to the temple.
The AMASR (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010 prescribes the limits of regulated and prohibited area around a monument by amending section 20 of AMASR Act 1958. The Act states that no building activity even public work is allowed in the ‘prohibited zone’ which is within 100 meters from the noti?ed limits of the monument. Two hundred meters further from the borders of the 100 meter prohibited zone is the ‘regulated area’. Here some building, repair and restoration activity is allowed with permission from the Competent Authority who forwards it’ to the National Monuments Authority for their expert opinion. According to AMASR 2010, heritage bye laws are required to be prepared in respect of each protected monument or protected site by NMA.
Encroachments or illegal occupation coupled with constructions thereupon around this ancient temple has been a major concern. These encroachments are done by local shopkeepers, souvenir sellers or local residents. These temporary or permanent structures are not ?t with architecture of monument or environment. The ASI should take immediate steps to identify, check and remove the incidents of encroachments with the cooperation of State Endowment department, District Administration and police authorities.
A joint survey needs to be conducted consisting of of?cials of BMC, ASI, BDA and tourism department to demarcate the government land or BMC land or ASI land or private land or temple land and vigilant steps are to be taken to prevent fresh encroachments and vacate the earlier encroachments.
The Endowments Commissioner finally stated that to access the overall maintenance and management work of Lingaraj temple, he has decided to hold a review meeting in his of?ce chamber at Bhubaneswar at the end of each quarter and other dates in case of festivals and urgency. The Superintending Archaeologist Orissa circle may be asked to attend such meetings which will reduce the communication gap between the departments and help all to achieve the purpose of temple development.
Addressing the Director General of ASI, the Endowments Commissioner said, “I hope that you will intervene into the matter and consider the grievances put-forth positively and impart necessary direction/sanction/approval for development of the temple and help endowment department to deliver its best towards the temple and the devotees and tourist’s visiting the temple.”