Thursday, October 1, 2020 | ePaper

DoA can't avert responsibility of ruining Somapura World heritage

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WITHIN three years of the completion of several conservation and development projects, the Somapura Mahavihara has started to lose its shine. The 1,300 year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site bears the evidence of an ancient higher learning center for Buddhists. The Department of Archaeology (DoA) renovated and polished the temple and its surrounding architecture. Separate wooden structures including staircases were built on the main temple and other places of the site for visitors to go up and move around safely. However, within a few years of completing the projects, the effects of the renovation have begun to fade from the site, making archaeologists and visitors question the quality of renovation and maintenance works. The DoA is responsible for blurring the image of the country and damage the archaeological site.
It becomes evident that this historic and archaeologically important place lacks the care it needs. Since 2019, walls around the main temple started turning black with algae, while salinity took hold on the terracotta plaques. The wooden staircases and pavements got damaged too, due to being exposed to open air and used by too many visitors. Considering the situation, authorities have suspended visitors movement to the main temple at the end of last year. Visitors now have to use the broken stairs and pavements to the site, which can be quite risky.
Archaeologists said conservation of an archaeological site means the site has to be maintained properly. As a large number of visitors are using the stairs for climbing to the main temple, the 1,300 year-old historical architecture has been damaged significantly. The site had a longstanding problem of the waterlogging solved, but the problem of salinity persists. During the excavation, 265 terra-cotta plaques were taken to the Barind Research Museum in Rajshahi while the remaining 3,000 terra-cotta plaques were on the main temple. To protect those from thieves and salinity, most terra-cotta plaques were removed under the projects, and replicas were placed.
The DoA cannot avert their responsibilities for ruining the site. The legacy of a nation lies in its history and archaeological sites and thus preservation and instilling the legacy among the new generation is imperative for national integration and national prestige.

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