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Nalanda platform for Cong-JD(U) warmth

Excavation of ruins on the cards,to cost cash-strapped ASI Rs 65 crore

Written by Anubhuti Vishnoi | New Delhi | Published: September 2, 2013 3:58 am

The warmth between Congress and Janata Dal (United) ahead of Lok Sabha polls will be felt in the ruins of the Nalanda University. It is learnt Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has told the UPA-led Central government that there is an urgent need to excavate afresh ruins of Nalanda for archaeological wealth and make it a World Heritage Site.

Highly placed sources told The Indian Express that the issue was also taken up by the CM with Finance Minister P Chidambaram recently,and reiterated by the Planning Commission as well.

JD(U) being a valuable ally,the government lost no time in responding. The Finance Ministry shot off a communication to the Chandresh Kumari Katoch-led Ministry of Culture to get Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on the job.

Battling cash crunch and manpower shortage,the ASI sent a proposal to the ministry that it will cost Rs 65 crore to revive excavation works in Nalanda. Senior ASI officials told The Indian Express that the excavation plans could be considered within 1-2 months provided the proposal is approved.

“A major and new excavation plan is proposed at Nalanda-Rajgir area,an archaeologically rich site. Due to manpower and fund shortage,ASI may not have been able to do as much as it would have liked and now at top government levels it is felt that more should be done for bringing greater recognition to this area,” Director General ASI,Pravin Srivastava,told The Indian Express.

The Culture Ministry is expected to share the ASI proposal seeking funds with the Finance Ministry next week.

The revisiting of the archaeological site at Nalanda is part of the larger plan to showcase and revive the new Nalanda University to come up across a 450-acre campus at Rajgir,10 kms from the ruins of the ancient Nalanda varsity.

The Nitish government takes pride in the Nalanda University project,an international effort to revive the ancient varsity and has put in considerable effort to take it forward. Currently,a dossier is being prepared to nominate monuments of Nalanda to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

Culture Minister Katoch had recently written to the Finance Ministry seeking a non-lapsable fund of Rs 100 crore for revival and rejuvenation of the ASI,an issue taken up by the Prime Minister’s Office recently. The Finance Ministry politely turned down the request pointing out too many such funds had come up and another was not desirable.

The archaeological site of Nalanda is located about 95 kms south-east of Patna. Nalanda rose into prominence in the 5th Century as a great monastic educational institution attracting students from distant countries including Hiuen Tsang and I-Tsing from China. Nalanda Mahavihara is said to have met its final decline in around 1200 AD,burnt down.

ASI conducted excavations in 1915-37 and 1974-82 exposing remains of six major brick temples and eleven monasteries besides sculptures in stone and bronze. It conducted excavation exercises around Nalanda over the years as well.

In 2006-07,the ASI,with the help of ISRO,developed satellite maps of Nalanda ruins for a revival project that never took off.

* ASI conducted excavations in 1915-37 and 1974-82 exposing remains of six brick temples and 11 monasteries.

* In 2006-07,the ASI,with the help of ISRO,developed satellite maps of Nalanda

ruins for a revival project that never took off.

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