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Plea to halt varsity road work

Imphal, May 12: The Manipur archaeological department has asked Manipur University to stop construction of a road on the foothill of Langthabal, inside its campus, saying the constructed falls within protected site.

The university started construction of the road ahead of President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to attend its convocation on April 29.

The 400-metre long road is an alternative approach route to the centenary hall of the university, where the convocation was held.

Meitei kings since Maharaja Bheigyachandra used the Langthabal hillock as their palace from time to time for strategic purposes. Now it has a temple and a mandap, where Raas Leela was staged.

According to cheitharol kumpaba (royal chronicle), in February 1776, King Bheigyachandra went to Kaina Hill in Imphal East in search of a jackfruit tree. Four images of Krishna were then carved from jackfruit wood. The ritual installation of Shri Govindajee was performed at the Rashmondal of Langthabal palace in 1780.

“Lanthabal hillock is very important in Manipur’s history. It is the place where idols of Govindajee was carved out and Raas Leela performed. King Gambhir Singh, who pushed back the Burmese invaders after ‘seven-year devastation’ of Manipur also used it as a palace,” Naorem Joykumar, a professor of the history department of Manipur University, said.

The Manipur government declared the hillock as protected historical side on September 9, 1981, under the Manipur Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1976.

In a letter sent a few days back to the university, the superintendent of archaeology department, K. Dinamani Singh, said, “Such excavation at protected area is prohibited under Section 19 of the act.”

“Now, I have an apprehension that the monuments located on the foothill might collapse in a some years time because of land erosion, mainly during the rainy season. In this connection, you are requested to halt the ongoing construction work of an approach road at the earliest in public interest,” the letter addressed to the university’s registrar, N. Lokendra Singh, said.

Lokendra Singh confirmed receiving the letter and maintained that he did not know much about the details of the construction of the road.

“I have put up the matter (letter) before the vice-chancellor and it would be discussed,” Lokendra Singh said. The vice-chancellor of the university, H. Nandakumar Sharma, is currently out of station.

Sources at the university said the road was constructed in connection with the President’s visit in April.

After receiving the letter, the university suspended the road construction.