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Sarma appeals to Jagan to preserve Buddhist sites

Photo wrteup: Buddhist site at Salihundam in Srikakulam district

Former Secretary to Union Government EAS Sarma bemoans that the important Buddhist sites in Andhra Pradesh are being neglected and they are being destroyed for the sake of real estate interests. From Srikakulam to Palnadu district, there are any number of monuments of historic and archeological value which are not being highlighted owing to the callousness of the government. In his letter to Jagan Mohan Reddy, chief minister of AP, the IAS officer cites the importance being given to Buddhism in neighbouring Telangana State and appeals to the AP government  to not only preserved the sites but also highlight them in national and international shows. Following is the letter:

Dear Shri Jaganmohan Reddy garu,

AP is fortunate to have a unique string of ancient Buddhist archaeological sites along its long coastline from Salihundam in the Srikakulam district up to Amaravati in the Palnadu district. The entire stretch has such rich heritage value that it should not only be carefully and professionally conserved but also sponsored as a world heritage stretch for recognition by the global community of archaeologists and by UNESCO. 

Unfortunately, the State government has fallen prey to the pressure of real estate agents and is taking steps that not only divert areas around those sites having potential archaeological evidence for construction activity but also permanently destroy their heritage value. 

It is sad for the people of the State to witness such callousness on the part of the government, while its counterpart in the adjacent Telugu State is proudly protecting its own archaeological sites and has been successful in securing recognition for them from UNESCO. 

In this connection, I refer to a news report (https://m.sakshipost.com/news/50-more-sites-across-india-unescos-tentative-list-await-upgade-231764) that indicates that several States have proposed their respective heritage sites to UNESCO for similar recognition and they are awaiting a response from that world body. It is unfortunate that not a single one among them belongs to AP! It speaks volumes about the State government’s failure.

Ancient archaeological sites constitute the heritage of the people and no government has the right to treat them as private property to be disposed of at its will and pleasure. Such heritage sites belong to the present and future generations.

In addition to the ancient Buddhist sites of AP, there are several other geological features, and religious structures in the State, which have immense heritage value, and deserve similar protection and global recognition. Either those who manage them are professionally not competent enough to be able to appreciate their value or are in outright connivance with real estate developers, as evident from the way they are subject to neglect and damage.

Your government should know that the role of the government in protecting the heritage sites is that of a public trustee and any failure to do so would constitute an outright breach of such public trust.

Yours sincerely,

E A S Sarma

Visakhapatnam

30-9-023

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