Authorities finally take steps to preserve Sher Shah’s tomb

January 16th, 2009 - 11:40 am ICT by IANS  

Patna, Jan 16 (IANS) Authorities in Bihar’s Rohtas district have finally banned discharge of polluted water and immersion of idols in the tank surrounding the 16th century tomb of Afghan king Sher Shah Suri in district headquarters Sasaram.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.

Last November the Patna High Court expressed 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. It directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Rohtas district administration to take measures to preserve the monument.

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.

“A ban was imposed on immersion of idols in the tomb’s tank in order to implement the court’s direction to preserve it,” said M. Sarvanan, the district magistrate of Rohtas. District police chief Vikash Vaibhav also assured the ban would be implemented.

Sarvanan said that the administration has begun a search for an alternative place for the immersion of idols and would construct a big pond for it. As a temporary measure, the immersion of idols would take place in a nearby canal.

The district administration allowed the immersion of idols in the tank from 1980 onwards after a pond in the neighbourhood dried up.

The district administration also ordered a detailed project report to stop polluted water from the town from entering the tank. Industrial discharge has made the water in the tank acidic, which is threatening the structure.

An ASI official said the body had last year warned the state government about the ecological threats to the tomb.

It had also moved the Patna High Court to seek removal of illegal constructions around the tomb. The ASI had also approached the district administration for revival of inlet and outlet channels of the tank, and to prevent the immersion of idols, washing of clothes and bathing in the water body.

“The tank’s water has turned acidic. It is posing a serious threat to the mausoleum’s life - it will destroy the building material and weaken the structure. The tank’s depth has decreased alarmingly in the last two decades,” the official added.

Since 1977, illegal buildings, including temples, have been built within the premises. However, the state says it spends about Rs.700,000 on the tomb’s maintenance each year.

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.

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