Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 30:
Close to three months after an underground tunnel was discovered in the Khandagiri area of Odisha’s capital, the state government is yet to initiate any tangible step towards its preservation.
The tunnel, believed to have been built around 2nd Century BC, was found during the construction work for the proposed Kharavela Enclave by the Odisha State Housing Board (OSHB) behind the Jagannath temple at Jagamara here in January this year.
As per reports, the government has not issued any notification for the preservation of the three-layered rare tunnel.
Meanwhile, the construction work for the proposed apartment project is going on in full swing.
A five-member team from Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) led by archaeologist Dr Jeevan Kumar Patnaik visited the spot for analysis.
On request from Khandagiri Anchalik Bikash Parishad, the former Deputy Director General of Geological Survey of India and geologist Dr Rabindranath Padhi, historian Amiya Patnaik, rock art scholar Dr Sadashiv Pradhan and IITTM Director Sarat Kumar Lenka among others also visited the site.
“You may not find a natural tunnel 12-feet below the earth’s crust anywhere. It needs to be preserved for geological study,” one of the experts had said.
“The Udaygiri caves bears resembles to this tunnel. The caves could have been built on these designs and it is not too far off from this place too,” a researcher had opined.
Though the tunnel still remains in the premises of the proposed construction site and has not been demolished, no such effort has been taken to preserve it either.
“When contacted, the supervisors at the site say, we haven’t received any directive from the government and for further information you should contact the OSHB officials. The callous attitude has raised questions over its preservation,” the President of the Parishad, Satyabrata Dash expressed.
Notably, the Khandagiri Anchalik Bikash Parishad had petitioned the Governor SC Jamir, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Chief Secretary GC Pati and concerned officials to draw their attention towards preservation of the tunnel. However, no such action has been taken regarding this, the members alleged.