Puri: Amid fingers accusing it of replacing old stones with new ones at the Sun Temple in Konark, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Monday clarified that not a single stone carving has been replaced in the last 15 years.
Chief of ASI, Odisha circle, Arun Mallick said that the plain stones have only been placed at blank portions of the temple, which is part of the conservation process and in accordance with the guidelines of the ASI and UNESCO.
On Friday, Konark Suraksha Samiti president Badal Das had alleged that old stones were being removed and sold. “A sculpture of a giraffe is missing from the temple and the ASI owes an explanation on the issue,” he added.
An FIR was also lodged in this connection at the Konark police station on Friday.
“All the repair work is going according to the ethics of conservation. There is no deviation from it. The quality of work is also of high standard. Senior officials are also monitoring it. Canards are being spread against us,” Mallick had told The Telegraph.
Samiti member Niranjan Barik had further said that since most part of the 13th century shrine have been covered with scaffolds, the visitors are being deprived of seeing its beauty.
Taking cognizance of media reports claiming that 40 per cent of original stone carvings at the Konark Temple had been replaced by plain stones, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had shot off a letter to Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Mahesh Sharma, seeking a probe into the matter.
The Chief Minister also urged him to direct the ASI to take proper steps for preservation and conservation of the world heritage monument.
“The ASI needs to focus more on proper conservation of Konark Sun temple and its art and aesthetic value,” he added.
Embellished with sophisticated and refined iconographical depictions of contemporary life and activities, the temple representing the chariot of Sun God is a World Heritage site and a major attraction for foreign tourists in Odisha.
On this issue, principal secretary, Tourism and Culture, Manoranjan Panigrahi had a meeting with the ASI officials on Saturday. The ASI officials had informed him that the conservation and preservation work of the Sun Temple was being done as per rules. Another round of meeting on this issue was to be held on Monday.