The ASI has urged Bihar government to clear all encroachments and unauthorized constructions around ‘Nalanda Mahavihara’ by December 31 in view of the scheduled visit of members of the ‘engagement groups’ of G-20 to the ancient site on March 7 next year.
The ‘Nalanda Mahavira’, a world heritage site and is located in Nalanda district.
Authorities concerned in Bihar have already started preparation for the meetings of the G-20 ‘engagement groups’, scheduled to be held in the state in March next year. In a letter to the District Magistrate of Nalanda, Goutami Bhattacharya, Superintending Archaeologist of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Patna Circle has urged the former to clear all encroachments and unauthorized constructions around the ‘Nalanda Mahavihara’ by December 31.
The meetings of the G-20 ‘engagement groups’ will take place in Patna and some other locations in the state on March 6 and 7 next year. India assumed the G-20 presidency from Indonesia on December 1 for one year. The foreign delegates (members of the ‘engagement groups’) will also visit several ASI protected monuments, including Nalanda Mahavihara, Son Bhandar Caves, Cyclopean wall, Sujata Stupa, Banganga, Maniyar Math, in Nalanda and Gaya districts during their two days stay in the state. Besides, delegates will also visit the ancient Mahabodhi temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in Gaya on March 6.
In the letter to the District Magistrate of Nalanda, the ASI Superintending Archaeologist said ”As you are aware that India has assumed the presidency of G-20 nations from December 1 onwards. As part of year-long meetings and excursions of international delegates, they are scheduled to visit ASI protected sites in Rajgir (Nalanda) as well as the world heritage site of Nalanda Mahavihara on March 7 next year”.
She said the ASI (Patna circle) is working within the premises of our sites and monuments, the immediate vicinity of the sites in Rajgir and of the world heritage site needs to be spruced up and made presentable before the visit of the delegates. Needless to stress that this area falls within the functional jurisdiction of the local administration and much effort is needed to not only remove the existing unauthorized constructions but also the cleanliness and beautification of the immediate surroundings of the monuments, especially the world heritage site, it said. A copy of the letter is with PTI.
”Your (DM) good self may kindly recall that commitment has been made for the removal of the unauthorized shops on either side of the entrance of Nalanda Mahavihara and Nalanda Museum. A deadline of December, 2022 was also mentioned by your kind self. If the same can be adhered to, it will give us ample time to work on the repair/or facelift of the boundary wall in time for the scheduled visit of delegates to the site on March 7, 2023”, said Bhattacharya in her letter. It’s a great moment for Bihar and all concerned authorities should work unitedly in showcasing the state’s rich cultural heritage, tourism potential and other strengths.
When asked about ASI’s request, Shashank Shubhankar, DM, Nalanda, told PTI, ”Let me make it very clear that I have not received any letter of the Superintending Archaeologist (ASI, Patna) pertaining to the removal of encroachments around the Nalanda Mahavihara in view of the visit of the members of the ‘engagement groups’ of G-20 to the ancient site on March 7, 2023. As far as our deadline of December, 2022 for removing encroachments around Nalanda Mahavihara is concerned, that is in process”.
Earlier, the Bihar government had assured the World Heritage Centre (WHC), Paris, through ASI that encroachments around the Nalanda Mahavihara would be cleared by December, 2022.