Encroachments, lack of conservation threatening Konark’s heritage status

Bhubaneswar: The Konark Sun Temple’s World Heritage Site status is seemingly at risk amidst lack of renovation and maintenance. The tourist spot is also losing its attraction amongst tourists as illegal shops and encroachments by locals are marring its beauty.

The temple which is also known as the Black Pagoda has been covered by Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) iron scaffoldings over the past five years for maintenance purpose. Moreover, due to lack of conservation, the fine artwork on the temple is starting to wear out.
Languishing in such negligence, concerns are being raised on the withdrawal of the World Heritage site status of the temple by UNESCO.

Both the State government and the district administration seem to be callous about the conservation and maintenance of this world famous tourist spot. A similar threat to its status arose in 2004 and government was forced to evict the encroachers around the temple. However, in 2013 locals started encroaching the land surrounding the temple again.

“The Centre, State government and the ASI have totally neglected the temple. This has resulted in a decline in the number of tourists,” said secretary of Konark Suraksha Samiti, Ramkrushna Mohanty.

Commenting on the current state of the heritage site, Tourism minister Ashok Panda said “The scaffoldings are on due to maintenance work being carried out by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) and as soon as they remove it, the temple will regain its attractiveness. We are also planning for a light and sound show to attract tourist.”

Notably, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) conferred the world heritage site status to the temple in 1985.