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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Culture Deptt proposes high-level meeting to discuss Dubdi Monastery protest against ASI control

source:Sikkim Now
GANGTOK, 27 August: The persistent demands made by the Dubdi Monastery Duchi and the monk body there to de-notify the management of the monastery from the control of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) is being taken up seriously for immediate attention by the Cultural Affairs & Heritage Department.
Recent appeals made by the Duchi in this regard had made media headlines and considering the fact that the matter needs to be resolved immediately, the Department has proposed to hold a high level meeting between the Chief Secretary’s office, heads of all line departments, representatives from the ASI, officials from the central government and members of the Dubdi Monastery Duchi. The monastery, among the oldest in Sikkim, has been placed under the care of the ASI and the monk body there is now complaining of too much interference by ASI officials with even day to day prayers and other rituals around the monastery requiring ASI permission creating undue harassment.
The Secretary, Cultural Affairs Department, Nalini G Pradhan, presented the proposal recommending the same to the Chief Secretary, Karma Gyatso, today.
Speaking to NOW!, the Secretary informed that the state government had followed-up on all the demands made by the Duchi and the reports published by the media had also been attached in the proposal submitted to the CS today.
Speaking on the steps taken by the Department in follow-up to these demands made by the Duchi, she stated, “The department is taking this issue seriously since the first day the Duchi started raising the demands. The first major meeting regarding the same was held in January this year when the Director General of the ASI had come to Sikkim with his team of conservationists and archeologists from New Delhi.”
She further informed that subsequently a meeting was held in the Chief Secretary’s chamber between the DG, the District Collector, West and representatives of line departments. It was during this meeting that the State government clearly pointed out to the ASI, Director General about the problems that were arising and the discontent within the monk body regarding the same.
It was further informed that the DG had during the time clearly stated, “The work of the ASI is only to conserve the monument and ensure historical continuity of the same.” The DG is also stated to have said that the ASI did not have any restrictions imposed on the day-to-day pujas and functions of the monastery.
It was during this meeting in January that the Chief Secretary is said to have directed that continuing religious rituals and flavour should not be lost during restoration works after the damage caused by the September 18 earthquake on the monastery and that all works should be carried out in consultation with the Duchi.
In reply to this direction the ASI, Director General had assured that the District Collectorate, West and the Duchi would be kept in confidence and local workers and artisans used since skilled manpower already existed within the monk body.
The Culture Secretary further informed that in the month of April, an IAS officer, TS Ramdas from the Culture Ministry, GoI, also visited the monastery and participated in a joint meeting with members of Yuksom GPU, Zilla Adhakshya and representatives of the Duchi that was conducted by the DC, West. It was during this meeting that the points raised by the Duchi regarding the “hurting of religious sentiments” were discussed thoroughly.
“The Duchi wanted Norbu Gang and Dubdi monastery to be de-notified from the purview of the ASI but the ASI representative in turn had assured that these issues could be amicably worked out; however it was not possible for the ASI to de-notify the same as it could not bear any further damage to the historically significant monument.”
It is during this meeting that the ASI representative is said to have stated that no state could be given any distinction in this regard as there were no state specific laws put in place and the notification of Dubdi monastery under the Archeological Survey of India was done under the Ancient Monument and Archeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958 and the Ancient Monument and Archeological Sites and remains (Amendment and Validation) Act of 2010.
It was informed that under the existing circumstances it was strongly recommended that the ASI take local artisans for all restoration including the frescos etc. The DC, West was intimated to monitor all works and further action regarding the same.
Further, in July representatives from the Dubdi Duchi are informed to have made a representation to KN Daruwala of the GoI who in turn had written to the Principal Secretary, Social Welfare department, GoS to resolve the issue and work out a via-media talk with ASI Kolkata National Monument Authority for relaxation of regulations.
“Now, after a detailed study on the entire issue I have submitted a proposal to the CS and the department and the state government are serious on this issue. We will discuss all these matters openly and in depth during the meeting which we think is required at the moment. If there are amendments that need to be made then these points have to be raised and we have to notify GoI,” stated the Secretary.

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