January 22, 2021 12:43:48 am
Ram temple construction committee chairman Nripendra Misra reached Ayodhya on Thursday to hold a two-day meeting with engineers and office bearers of Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra in presence of temple chief architect Ashish Sompura.
According to the officials, the two-day meeting, which will continue till Friday, is focussing on the final decision on the new design of the foundation planned by expert engineers from Larsen & Toubro (L&T), Tata Consulting Engineers (TCE) and other firms, along with assessing the digging work that started last week.
Misra met the engineers at the Vishwamitra Ashram in Ayodhya where an alternative design for the foundation, based on the techniques used in ancient temples, has reportedly been discussed. Another meeting with the experts and Trust office bearers was held later in the evening at Circuit House.
Temple chief architect Ashish Sompura, who was present in the meeting, said it has already been decided that the temple foundation will have an open excavation and that the digging work at the site started last week. He added that the meeting was to inspect and discuss the developments at the site.
“In the last meeting, we had already decided that we will use the open excavation system for the foundation. Under this, we will remove the debris and bad soil. So, digging and excavation work has also started. Now, what the experts are deciding on what material can be used for the foundation. Earlier, we tried using concrete, but the test piles did not give us the desired results,” said Sompura, adding that the decision is expected to be made in the next 15 days.
“Even though this is not my field of expertise, the options discussed for the foundation include making entire underground walls that extend above the ground, instead of normal piles. But the experts are yet to decide which system will be the best to ensure the life of the temple for a millennium,” he said.
Sompura added that the temple cannot be renovated after 15-20 years as the structure will be made entirely of stone.
In December last year, the initial test piles failed to bear the weight and handle earthquake-like situations during examination. Now, experts are looking for alternative ways to ensure that the strength of the temple structure and foundation design can withstand loose sand found under the construction site.
Experts from several renowned organisations, including IITs, NITs, Roorkee’s Central Building Research Institute (CBRI), L&T and TCE, are also facing an additional hurdle of water flow of Sarayu on the west side of the “Garbhgrih” (sanctum sanctorum), making it harder for them to build a concrete structure that can last for generations.
Digging of the ground at the site has already started earlier this month. While the L&T has been appointed as design and building contractor for the temple construction, the TCE has been appointed as project management consultant by the Trust.
Last month, Trust General Secretary Champat Rai had said around 700 tonnes of weight was put on each test pile, which is the estimated weight that each of the 1,200 pillars will have to bear, and the results received were far from expectation. The foundation design finalised and submitted by the L&T comprised plain cement concrete raft resting on about 1,200 cement concrete piles – 20 to 40 metres deep and around 1 metre in diameter.
Following the failure of the test piles, a joint conference of experts was held for nearly 15 days. It was attended by experts from several IITs, including Delhi, Mumbai, Guwahati and Chennai, along with NIT Surat, CBRI, L&T and TCE.
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