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State gets licence for ‘historic’ excavation

- Directorate of archaeology to dig Telhara, Chausa, Chechar; heritage sites to get facelift

The state directorate of archaeology would conduct excavations at Telhara in Nalanda, Chausa in Buxar and Chechar in Vaishali.

Unlike Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, the historical sites would be excavated for conventional reasons. The directorate recently received the licence from the Government of India for excavating the three historic sites.

Mauryan artefacts from Chandragupta’s reign were excavated at Chechar in 1989. A figurine of Helen, daughter of one of Alexander’s commanders, was also found. Chausa, near the Uttar Pradesh border, threw up bronze pieces from the Gupta period, indicating the spread of the empire.

Besides the excavations, the directorate would take up conservation, development and beautification work at 29 sites, including Taradih in Bodhgaya and Dwalak shrine in Madhubani, at a cost of Rs 78 crore. The 13th Finance Commission has released funds for the development of sites, said Chanchal Kumar, the art, culture and youth affairs secretary, on Monday at a national seminar on “Recent excavations in the eastern region”.

Speaking at the event organised by his department at Patna Museum, Kumar admitted that the directorate of archaeology was facing manpower crunch.

“We need people having sound knowledge in history, who can help us in the excavation-related works. We can carry out excavation work at 15 sites at a time, but for that we need teams. At present, we have only three teams. When all of them are busy, we can’t start any new project. It would be really good if history teachers of universities come forward for the excavation-related works,” he said.

He said his department started “Chhatra Dharohar Yojana” last year, wherein the universities were asked to engage students in the documentation work of heritage sites. But it did not find many takers.

Atul Kumar Verma, director, archaeology, said: “We shall work on bettering the landscape and build walls for the protection of the 29 heritage sites.”

Padma recipient and retired joint director-general of Archaeological Survey of India R.S. Bisht delivered a lecture on Indus Valley Civilisation.

Former MLC Rambachan Rai expressed displeasure over lack of co-ordination between university geology and archaeology departments.