Taking cognisance of media reports, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on November 10 wrote to the central government urging it to direct the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to probe allegation of replacement of artistic stone carvings at Sun Temple with plain stones.
The ASI is the custodian of the 13th century shrine.
"Due to continuous care, conservation and
maintenance work by the ASI, the Sun Temple Konark is in a good state of preservation and the issues raised are not justified," Union Minister of State for Culture Mehesh Sharma wrote to Patnaik.
Sharma's November 16 letter which was made available to the media on Thursday also said that the statement about replacing 40 per cent of original carving is not true.
"For structural stability, where there is no evidence of decorations/carvings, the plain stone work has been applied. However, some restorations of original features have been done where enough evidence of original existence was available," Sharma said in the letter.
After formation of Bhubaneswar Circle of the ASI in 1985, major conservation of the platform of three staircase with available stones after dressing and carving with simple and geometric designs. Therefore, need based works have been attended to as per requirement based on established principles of restoration of missing portions, he pointed out.
"In addition, the intricately carved stone panels are duly taken care by ASI by regular monitoring and cleaning with paper pulp and other suitable methods thereby considerably reducing the rate of deterioration of stone surfaces," the union minister said.
He said care has also been taken to control the environs of the monument thereby reducing the impact of salt laden winds as well as sand particles on the temple surfaces.
The ASI also had clarified that not a single stone carving has been replaced at the Sun Temple and denied allegations of replacement of artistic stone works at the world heritage monument declared by the UNESCO.
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