Sand Removal From Odisha’s Konark Sun Temple Welcomed By Experts
Bhubaneswar: Welcoming the process of removing sand from the towering Jagamohan of the 13th century Sun Temple in Odisha, noted researcher Anil Dhir said on Saturday that once the evacuation work is complete, steel frames can be used to save the edifice from collapsing.
“It is indeed a welcome move by the ASI to begin the process of removing sand from the Jagamohan of Konark temple. It is not an easy task, but we are hopeful that they will be successful in their endeavour,” said Dhir of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
Stating that the sand removal should have been undertaken long ago, he said the presence of tons of sand inside the Jagamohan was posing a threat to the structural stability of the monument and it was very important to remove it.
Since 2000, experts as well as INTACH had been seeking steps to remove the sand, he said, adding that foreign experts who conducted study at the historic monument to ascertain the status of the interior of the Jagamohan.
It was found that the sand had already subsided and settled around 12 to 13 feet below the roof and no more supported it. The sand filling was done by the British in 1903 to provide support and save the roof from collapsing, Dhir said.
However, now the weight of the huge volume of sand seems to be exerting enormous pressure on the side walls, putting the structural stability of the monument in danger, he said.
Experts from the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), IIT Madras, IIT Bhubaneswar and other organisations repeatedly told the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to remove the sand, he said, adding that the Engineer-In-Chief of Odisha also pleaded for sand removal. However, the ASI was apprehensive that the structure may cave in if the sand is removed from inside.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court and the Orissa High Court also intervened and sought status report on it, Dhir said, adding that the ASI is of the view that the entire process of sand removal is likely to take around three years. “Let it take time. They can do it slowly and examine the structural stability of the edifice at every stage,” he said.
Once the entire volume of sand is removed, the ASI can provide support to the structure using steel frames.
Seeking fears being expressed by some people that tourists and others may crowd the interior and perform puja after removal of sand, the noted historian said it is not a living temple but only a hollow structure and the ASI will never allow rituals to be performed inside.
Sources, the ASI is constructing a mechanical working platform on the western side of the structure, which will help in the drilling and transportation of equipment, and debris from the temple. It is taking the help of a private company for technical know-how. IIT, Madras, and engineers of Odisha are being involved in the long drawn-out process, which could take at least three years.