Archaeologists worry about safety of heritage sites

03-VJ-BUDDHA_STATU_2266094fThe Hindu
J. R. SHRIDHARAN

Chitti Babu, assistant director of archaeology and museums, says measures should be formulated to prevent artefacts being razed by the bulldozers. He said soon the Bhairavakonda, a protected monument in Thullur mandal situated 10 km from Amaravati, will be declared as a heritage site.

While the State government is slowly and steadily preparing to build an elegant capital city, the officials of the department of archaeology and museums are a worried lot for they feel their orderly work in protecting the relics and remnants of yesteryears might go for a toss.

The capital city building exercise is bound to witness hectic construction activities at the designated area in days to come and in the melee; the laws protecting the archaeological sites might get diluted.

“We may not say what is in store in future,” says Chitti Babu, assistant director of archaeology and museums at Visakhapatnam, who played a pivotal role in identifying and protecting several Buddhist sites both in Krishna and Guntur Districts.

He said under the archaeological act no construction activity should take place within 100 feet from the heritage site. “How strictly the politicians and bureaucrats will follow the rules amid frenzy construction activities is something which we have to wait and watch,” he observed.

He said Buddhism flourished alongside river Krishna and the Amaravati area was the most-sought after destination for the followers of Buddha and pilgrims. Several Buddhists relics are situated on the banks of river Krishna. “With the State government keen on having a capital city facing the river, the apprehension is palpable among the archaeological fraternity”.

He said soon the Bhairavakonda, a protected monument in Thullur mandal situated 10 km from Amaravati, will be declared as a heritage site.

He also felt foolproof measures should be formulated to prevent artefacts being razed by the bulldozers. “Already the Vizag-Kakinada petroleum chemical corridor has ignited hue and cry among Buddhists and their sympathisers as the project is likely to affect the protected sites alongside seacoast. We are already witnessing protests”.

Mr. Bangaraiah, assistant director of archaeology and museums at Vijayawada, said that a department was carrying out a survey in all the 17 villages of Thullur mandal to identify the existence of any vintage ruins and relics. “We have started the survey at Venkatapalem and we will cover all the villages with the help of locals. We will inform the government if we find by heritage site.”

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