Government needs to get priority right in Assam
GUWAHATI, May 5: Does the Union Ministry of Tourism that has launched a project – Adopt a Heritage – for the development of heritage sites of the country have anything in its agenda for making the model monuments of Assam free from encroachment? The government, it seems, needs to get its priority right – if the monuments in Assam need adoption or to be free from encroachment.
It is hard to swallow that encroachers have spelt doom for tourism in Assam. The encroachers include some government departments, including the Department of Tourism itself, and some temple committees. Assam has as many as 55 centrally-protected monuments/sites under the jurisdiction of Archeological Survey of India’s (ASI) Guwahati Circle. It is indeed a blessing that such sites are alluring tourists. The curse, however, is that nine of the 55 monuments have been under encroachment – some by various departments of the State Government and some by a few temple committees. Sivadol, which is under the Union Ministry’s ‘Adopt a Heritage’ project, Devidol and Vishnudol in Sivasagar district have long been under the encroachment of the respective temple committees. While the temple committee has constructed a pucca religious shrine, office and quarters for staff at Sivadol, the respective temple committees of Devidol and Vishnudol have constructed pucca religious shrines in the sites. The Cachari ruins at Khaspur in Cachar district are encroached upon by the Department of Sericulture, Assam that has constructed its office buildings there.
At Hajo in Kamrup district, the PHED and the temple committee have constructed structures at the protected area of Sri Sri Hayagriva Madhava Temple. Even the Department of Tourism has erected permanent structures within the protected area in Sri Sri Kameswar Temple site at Hajo. The temple committee of Sri Sri Ganesh Temple at Hajo has erected a bhogghar in the protected area. The same is the case with Sri Sri Kedar Temple at Hajo where the temple committee erected some structures. At the stone inscription at Poa-Mecca Mosque at Hajo the Masjid committee resorted to do some marble constructions.
Archeological Survey of India (ASI) did issue show-cause notices to the district administrations concerned for making the monument sites free from encroachment, but to no avail.
In Ranghar, which has been declared as one of the model monuments of the country and included in the Union Ministry of Tourism’s ‘Adopt a Heritage’ project, some development works are going on. Oil companies are spending their CRS funds for the development of the site. In such a situation, the scene is far from being clear as to what the Union ministry is going to do by engaging some private companies for the maintenance of the site.