Budhanath temple. Telegraph picture
Bhubaneswar, Sept. 15: Shortage of manpower has severely affected restoration work on the 12th century Budhanath temple at Garedi Panchana, about 22km from here.
A number of ancient statues are lying scattered on the premises of the temple, which has been awaiting chemical treatment and restoration since 1998.
The slow pace of the restoration reflects the state of affairs in the state culture department’s archaeology wing, where many posts have been lying vacant for a long time. Against a requirement of six permanent curators, the wing has to make do with only two permanent curators while three others are working on a temporary basis.
Similarly, there is only one permanent assistant engineer although two are required.
The State Archaeology has only two permanent junior engineers at the moment, though it needs at least eight of them. Some 20 junior engineers are working on a temporary basis on various central projects being executed by the State Archaeology at present, but their services will not be available following the completion of these projects in 2015.
Apart from the restoration of statues, the kitchen of Budhanath temple also needs to be re-designed.
Superintending archaeologist of State Archaeology B.P. Ray said: “We are progressing a bit slowly in the restoration process because of the staff crunch. However, we hope the temple will turn into a major tourist destination once the work has been completed.”
The state has more than 3,000 monuments and 42 excavated sites, of which 218 are protected by the State Archaeology. Despite the staff crunch, another 30 are likely to be brought under its protective umbrella.
“No one has bothered to take a look at the present manpower needs of the wing. Ironically, even the manpower that was sanctioned for it at the time of the wing’s establishment in the 1950s is not available with the wing today,” said another official.
No wonder then that many monuments under its charge remain neglected.
A source in the department said work on restoration of the 12th century Ekamreswar temple near the well-known Lingaraj shrine could be taken up only in December last year, although it was lying in a dilapidated condition for decades.
Similarly, work on Aishaneswar temple behind the Lingaraj shrine was also taken up last year, as the wing did not have adequate manpower for the job. Restoration work at sites such as Khiching in Mayurbhanj district has also been suffering because of staff shortage. Many statues near Kichakeswari temple in Khiching are lying neglected.
The archaeology wings in Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh were converted into full-scale directorates in the 1960s, which entitled them to more manpower and authority. This is yet to happen in Odisha.
The archaeology wing is also in dire need of creating separate sections for documentation, chemical conservation and archaeological excavations. Experts also feel that the wing should be headed by a trained archaeologist instead of an Odisha Administrative Service (OAS) officer.
However, director of the culture department Sushil Kumar Das said: “Though the OAS officer manages the administrative affairs, the technical side is being taken care of by an archaeologist.”
He said the wing’s proposal to the government for its conversion into a directorate was at a nascent stage.
Culture secretary Santosh Kumar Sarangi said: “We are considering the proposal for the directorate. If it is approved, it may help in further conservation activities.’’
K.K. Basa, anthropology professor at Utkal University, who is a former director of the Indian Museum, Calcutta, said: “Most of the states in the country have separate directorates for archaeology and museum. We should at least have one combined directorate for museum and archaeology.”