Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Circle of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Monday clarified that it had neither removed any sculpture stones from the Konark temple nor had it attempted to place new stones at the temple.
The ASI response came a day after the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) expressed displeasure over maintenance of the Sun Temple by the ASI team, and complained to Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma regarding the matter.
In a release, the state Culture department Monday said that the department and the ASI team met at the office of the culture secretary to discuss the issue.
The Culture department said at the meeting that Arun Mallik, the regional ASI head, said the sculpture stones that were used had been there since the British era.
“At no time were new stones installed or any sculpture stone removed. Some normal stones were placed in the empty slots where there were no stones for protection purpose. We are determined to protect the monument,” the ASI said at the meeting.
The meeting was attended by state culture secretary Manoranjan Panigrahi, ASI regional head Arun Mallik and deputy engineer Tapan Bhattacharya.
Meanwhile, the Culture department has vowed to ensure proper upkeep of the ASI protected monument.
“The department is leaving no stone unturned to ensure proper maintenance of the Sun Temple at Konark. We are offering all possible assistance to the ASI. Today, the Culture department and the ASI’s Odisha Circle discussed the issue,” the Culture department said.
Meanwhile, another meeting is planned for November 13 in the presence of ASI personnel.
The meeting will be held at the office of Tourism Minister Ashok Chandra Panda, who is also likely to take part. The Additional Secretary, the Urban Development Commissioner, Puri Collector and MLAs of Kakatpur and Nimapara will attend the meeting.
The ASI team will apprise all stakeholders of the work in progress at the Konark temple during the meeting.