Dharamsala, August 1
Despite the fact that the government has notified that no heritage building can be altered without permission from a DC, many heritage buildings are altered at the whim of local politicians.
The recent renovation by government contractors of the Devi Kothi temple in Chamba district has drawn the ire of environmental campaigners.
Domain controllers must agree, the notification says
- The temple is known for its splendid woodcarvings and wall paintings
- According to the notification, for the renovation of buildings that are 100 years old or more, the authorization of the DCs must be requested
Vijay Sharma, a heritage advocate and winner of the Padma Shri award for his work on the Kangra paintings, told The Tribune that the Devi Kothi temple is known for its splendid woodcarvings and murals. The front part of the temple had been degraded.
The facade of the temple had been covered with wooden pillars made by modern craftsmen, he said. The ancient shrine was built by Raja Umed Singh of Chamba in the middle of the 18th century.
Raised the issue last year
The front part of the temple had been degraded. Some art lovers had also raised the issue the previous year. After that, they were assured that the ancient structure of the temple would not be changed. —Vijay Sharma, Padma Shri Laureate
Vijay said some art lovers had also raised this issue in the previous year. After that, they were assured that the ancient structure of the temple would not be changed.
Vijay wrote a book about the temple. He had raised the issue when laying the concrete pillars a few months ago around the temple. He had also approached the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) for his intervention. The government had sanctioned Rs 25 lakh for the preservation of the structure. But the amount was not used for the purposes for which it was sanctioned.
Sharma urged the chief minister to take notice and give orders to remove the garish woodwork from the temple.
The government had taken steps to protect the heritage building. In accordance with the notification issued by the Governor for all buildings that are 100 years old or more, authorization must be requested from the DCs for their renovation.
The local committee and panchayats would also be informed before any changes in heritage buildings or structures. The decree will also apply to private buildings.
The DCs were also instructed to only allow alteration of heritage structures if they were satisfied that the fundamental nature, architecture and ancient frescoes of the heritage buildings would not be damaged.
The notification stated that the government took the decision as many heritage buildings were damaged during the restructuring due to which the state was losing its heritage.
Malwika Pathania, state organizer of INTACH, said that despite the notification, heritage buildings were being altered without government permission.
“I will write to the Governor and Chief Secretary to take action against those who have changed the original structure of the Devi Kothi Temple,” she said.