Monday, Sep 22, 2014

Uttarakhand devastation: Kedarnath temple committee unhappy with ASI restoration work

kedarnath ASI was handed the responsibility of restoring the temple which was badly affected by the devastating floods and landslides last year. (Source: AP)
Press Trust of India | New Delhi | Posted: June 16, 2014 3:21 pm

The Kedarnath temple committee has expressed dissatisfaction over the restoration work being carried out by ASI at the shrine which was damaged in last year’s flash floods in Uttarakhand, but the government agency has squarely rejected these claims.

Ganesh Godiyal, president of Badri Kedar Temple Committee, has said that the Archaeological Survey of India should adopt a ‘transparent and efficient’ approach and make ‘good use of
government money’.

“I asked ASI about the claim it has made about spending Rs 35 lakh on restoration work so far. I got a reply from its Dehradun circle mentioning a list of 18 to 20 items on which the expenditure was incurred. They have also taken credit for cleaning the temple premises, which is false. The cleaning work was done by the temple committee,” Godiyal told PTI.

“We are not satisfied with the way ASI has worked. They have just installed the temple door which is also not of good quality. I have forwarded their reply to temple officer Anil Sharma to verify their claims. After his report, we will decide on our future course of action,” he said.

ASI was handed the responsibility of restoring the temple which was badly affected by the devastating floods and landslides last June in Uttarakhand in which over 5,700 people were presumed dead by the state government.

But the temple committee is not satisfied with the way ASI has worked. According to Godiyal, the committee does not want to create any controversy but expects ASI to be transparent and efficient in its work.

“We don’t want to create an issue out of it. We just want ASI to work transparently and with more efficiency. They should make good use of government money. What have they done in last one year?” he asked. “They have not even started work to rebuild Ishaan temple which was washed away in the floods. Re-installation of the stones, which were dislodged, is also pending. They have done nothing to solve the problem of water leakage from the roof of the temple. The problem persists during rains,” he said.

However, dismissing Godiyal’s allegations, Atul Bhargava, superintendent archaeologist of ASI’s Dehradun circle said, “We got only one month for the work so far. In that time we have installed the door and cleared the platform. Apart from that, our team did scientific cleaning some 8ft to 9ft inside the temple. After that, the doors of the temple were closed.

“We have resumed work from June 6 and are cleaning the remaining portion of the temple’s interior. We have also started carving on dislodged stones from the eastern side. The Ishaan temple is not our responsibility as it was completely washed away in the flood. I don’t understand the reason for their dissatisfaction.”

Godiyal further said, “They have cleaned the stones which turned black under the sun. We, too, could have done that as that was the easiest thing to do and did not require any expertise.

“ASI has claimed to have spent around Rs 3 lakh on travel by helicopter but till now their team of four of five people has visited the site only thrice.”

He also questioned the scientific procedure mentioned by ASI in its reply.

“ASI has repeatedly mentioned ‘scientific procedure’ adopted by them in the work. They have also said that they have purchased equipment for the work but where have they kept them?” he asked.

In his response, Bhargava said that “as far as expenditure is concerned, we have purchased some equipment which is with us. IIT Chennai’s expert team has visited the site to assessthe condition of the foundation and the structure. Their second team will visit again on June 19.

“This is not modern construction work, hence it takes time. An ASI team of seven-eight people is there at the site on rotation basis. I have visited the site with our conservation director. Work is on but we can’t fix any time frame for it.”

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