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India does not do too great a job of looking after its heritage structures, does it? Recently, a demolition drive ended up destroying a cluster of 10th century temples in Bhubaneshwar.
The bizarre part is that the drive was conducted as part of the Ekamra Kshetra Heritage Project. The Ekamra Kshetra lies on the periphery of the Lingaraja Temple, dating back to the 11th century.
Announced in 2019, the Ekamra Heritage Project aims to reconstruct and beautify the region in order to put Bhubaneswar on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has expressed its objections to any demolition under the name of this project. ASI officials say that the state government of Bhubaneswar has not received permission from them for the project. And the area falls under the purview of ASI.
As per the Ancient monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (AMASRA), 1958, repairs, renovation and constructions within 300 metres of the protected area are allowed only in extraordinary cases, that too, with prior permission of the national monument authority or the concerned authority.
According to ASI, the demolition drive carried out by the BMC and OBCC has resulted in destruction of structures that were of significant archaeological importance.
After the recent discovery of the Panchayatana style Suka-Sari temple complex, archaeologists and historians believe that the demolished areas could have contained more significant temple structures and remains, dating back to the 10th century, older than the Lingaraja temples. The ASI has been unable to locate the debris from the demolition drive of these sites and is considering this a major historical loss.
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