Dilip Kumar

Konark: The Konark Handicraft Traders' Association on Wednesday alleged that the officials of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have illegally lifted and transported sand from around the world famous Sun Temple here in Puri district.

Sand has been lifted from the land adjacent to the world heritage site, which is under the care of ASI. The association has demanded an inquiry into the illegal sand quarrying activities.

"The Naga Sadhus perform yoga and other rituals during Magha Mela there. Another saint named Dharani Baba who died last year was staying there for last 25 years. He was buried there.  The ASI officials have lifted over 300 trips of sand from the place in the name of renovation. There were also several ancient sculptures and idols at the same place,” said Subhas Nayak, President of Konark Handicraft Traders' Association.

“We want a proper judicial inquiry into the matter,” he demanded.

On the other hand, Arun Mallick, ASI Superintendent rubbished the allegation and clarified that the department is working as per government guidelines. He further said that Odisha government has ordered to renovate the south gate of the temple and the ASI is carrying out the work accordingly.

"The Office of the Chief Minister (CMO) has instructed me to renovate and redesign the entry point of the south gate for the VIPs. We have directed the contractor to remove the garbage and other unused materials to clean the place. We have done nothing more than that", said Mallick.

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