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Work at Hampi comes to a halt following objection from ASI

Work on Matanga Hill was being carried out in violation of conservation norms, says ASI.

Work on Matanga Hill was being carried out in violation of conservation norms, says ASI.  

Following objection raised by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to the manner in which resetting and repair of the footsteps leading to Matanga Hill at Hampi, a World Heritage site, are being carried out, work has been suspended. After a notice issued by ASI, Karnataka Rural Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (KRIDCL), which commenced the work recently, has suspended it. The objection has been that work was being carried out in violation of conservation norms. As such the very character and authenticity of the site would get distorted, it is said.

“The work being carried out is not in tune with the practice of conservation. New stones, along with cement, are being used. The work is of a modern construction-type and does not suit the heritage site. Moreover, the work is being carried out without supervision by a conservation expert. Keeping all these factors in view, ASI raised an objection and got the work stopped,” N.C. Prakash Nayakanda, Deputy Superintending Archaeologist, ASI Hampi Mini Circle, Hampi, told The Hindu here on Monday. Matanga Hill is a protected monument, but falls within the core zone of Hampi World Heritage area.

The work of resetting the steps and installing a railing was proposed by the Department of Tourism when B.S. Anand Singh was Minister for Tourism, for the convenience of tourists thronging Hampi to enable them to go on top of the hill and have an aerial view of Hampi, its ancient monuments, the natural landscape and the like. The hill is also the most sought-after point for viewing sunrise and sunset.

The work, estimated to cost around Rs. 50 lakh, was entrusted to KRIDCL in January 2013 when Rs. 20 lakh was released as the first instalment. The work started recently after the formal permission was got from the authorities concerned, including ASI.

ASI, in its letter written in January 2014, specifically mentioned the dos and don’ts. It had made clear that available ancient stones had to be used. It had said that modern bonding material such as cement and new stones should not be used in the work.

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