The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) informed the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Wednesday that the proposed gold plating of the walls of Lord Venkateswara, Tirumala, may pose a “severe threat” to the inscriptions and damage the inscriptions which “are worth preserving for posterity.”

This was stated in the counter affidavit filed by the ASI on the writ petition filed by G. Raghava Reddy. It may be recalled that the Bench comprising Justice B. Prakash Rao and Justice Reddy Kantha Rao admitted the writ petition, stayed all further activities pertaining to gold plating project and has been hearing arguments for the last three days. The ASI has said covering the walls with copper plates coated with gold may encourage formation of moss and lichen and produce acids which will cause irreparable damage. There may be no possibility of cleaning the surface. The long-term effect of all this will be assessed by Director (science), Dehra Dun.

“Non-secular activity”

Mr. P. Sri Raghu Ram, counsel for petitioner, wondered why the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) did not consult the Dharmic Parishad constituted under the provisions of the Endowments Act. He asserted that this was a non-secular activity and the TTD could not go ahead with the project unless the religious denomination accepted it. There must be wider consultation and consensus.