Puri Heritage Corridor Row: Emar Mutt Remnant Reignites ‘Violation Vs Conformity’ Debate [Watch]
Puri: Damage to an ancient sculpture of a lion unearthed during the digging work under the Puri Heritage Corridor project on Emar Mutt premises near Jagannath Temple in Puri and lying unattended stoked a controversy on Monday.
According to sources, this is the third lion sculpture found on the premises. “The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had already mentioned two more sculptures from the site and submitted pictures of those in its affidavit to the Orissa High Court. This might have become visible after the recent spell of rain,” said lawyer Sarat Rayaguru.
He further said that no ground-penetrating radar survey (GPRS), a non-intrusive and non-destructive method of surveying the sub-surface, was undertaken at the site before carrying out digging activities and this could have resulted in damage to the ancient structures.
“The ASI too had claimed that no GPRS was conducted to ascertain the archaeological and historical importance lying buried in the subsoil within the 75m radius of the centrally-protected monument,” he said.
Rayaguru further said that heritage impact assessment, visual impact assessment and archaeological impact assessment should be conducted before the GPRS and taking up any digging activities. “The state government went ahead with the work, which is being executed by Tata Projects Limited and Odisha Bridge & Construction Corporation, without conducting these studies and without the consent of the ASI is in gross violations of the standard rules. Therefore, the ongoing work should be stopped and the Culture Department should first conduct a GPRS,” he added.
Notably, Puri resident Dilip Baral had moved the HC, challenging the alleged illegal construction and digging activities near the 12th-century shrine by the state government. The petitioner’s counsel had also mentioned this structure during the last hearing on May 9.