Action begins against illegal construction around Sher Shah’s tomb

May 1st, 2009 - 2:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, May 1 (IANS) Authorities have initiated moves against illegal constructions in the premises of the 16th-century tomb of Pathan king Sher Shah Suri in Sasaram in Bihar’s Rohtas district, officials said Friday.
A district administration official said that the local civic agency has issued notices to all those who have constructed illegal structures in the vicinity of the tomb seeking explanations. The notices followed orders of the district magistrate to free the premises of encroachment and preserve the monument.

The tomb has been facing a problem of encroachment, especially as illegal construction witnessed a boom after Sasaram became the headquarters of Rohtas district in 1972.

An official of the local civic body told IANS over phone that action will be taken against the illegal constructions in the prohibited area of 100 metres around the tomb.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has long demanded removal of illegal constructions around the tomb and had also taken up the matter in the Patna High Court.

The ASI guidelines clearly stipulate that no construction can be allowed within a 100-metre radius of a historical monument and also forbids construction beyond a certain height within a radius of 200 metres. However, the rules have been violated time and again.

The historical tomb was declared a national heritage site under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, and the ASI given the responsibility for its preservation and protection.

The tank around the five-storey tomb in Sasaram town, about 150 km from here, is filled with acidic industrial discharge while illegally constructed buildings have come up all around it.

Expressing unhappiness that the monument has fallen into disrepair due to years of neglect and exposure to pollution, while some parts have also been encroached upon, the Patna High Court November 2008 directed the ASI and the Rohtas district administration to take measures for its preservation.

The court’s order came in response to public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a Sasaram resident, who contended the state government was not taking adequate steps to preserve the tomb.

Early this year, district authorities banned discharge of polluted water, immersion of idols and bathing in the tank. The ban was imposed early this year by the high court, after the ASI warned of the ecological threats to the tomb as the tank’s water had turned acidic, and the water level had gone down.

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