The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Diggers prime for Monday kick-off

Lucknow, March 8: A team from the Archaeological Survey of India will inspect the disputed site in Ayodhya on Monday following the excavation order of Allahabad High Court.

“The ASI has informed us that it will decide the date for starting the actual digging after inspecting the site,” R.M. Shrivastava, commissioner of Faizabad division, said.

Headed by the ASI’s director (investigation), R.S. Bisht, the team will be accompanied by experts from the Canadian company Tojo-Vikas International Pvt. Limited, which had conducted a ground-penetrating radar survey of the area in January this year on the court’s orders.

“After the ASI decides when it will start excavation work, all the contesting parties will be informed of the date so that they can send their one representative during the exercise,” Shrivastava, who is also the court-appointed officer on special duty, Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid, said.

The special bench of the high court had on March 5 ordered the ASI to start excavation at the site after considering the Canadian company’s survey report, which indicated existence of some structures between 0.5 and 5.5 metres.

Sources, however, indicated that it would be some time before the actual digging started.

“Though we will use Tojo-Vikas International’s survey as the basis, it will take a couple of weeks to map the area again from the point of view of trench excavation before actual excavation can start,” an ASI official said.

The ASI’s superintendent for Uttar Pradesh, R.S. Fonia, who was summoned to Delhi immediately after the court order, will reach Ayodhya tomorrow to discuss arrangements for the spot-inspection.

“We have short-listed the panel of experts who would be involved in the exercise and made an inventory of the equipment we would need. Arrangements are underway to fly the equipment to Ayodhya as early as possible,” Fonia said.

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