states with a Buddhist heritage like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Punjab have not spent a penny for its promotion in the last 21 years. A response to a Right to Information (RTI) application Yamunanagar-based activist Siddhartha Gauri has revealed that 20 states have spent just Rs 17.63 cr on Buddhist sites between 1990 and 2011.
States that have spent for this purpose include Arunachal Pradesh (Rs 14 cr), Gujarat (Rs 193 cr), Haryana (Rs 80.6 lakh), Jammu and Kashmir (Rs 28.03 lakh), Maharashtra (Rs 25 lakh), Andhra Pradesh (Rs 1,864 lakh), Orissa Rs (8.27 lakh), Kerala (Rs 57,787), Mizoram (Rs 1 lakh), and Assam (Rs 20.94 lakh).
Whereas, States like Goa, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Manipur, Meghalaya, Uttrakhand, Karnataka, and Delhi have done little to explore, preserve and promote ancient Buddhist sites.
States like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Chhattisgarh replied that they did have record of the budget spent on these sites. Bihar has reported zero expenditure through these years despite the fact that the Taradith and Parvati hill sites are in ruins.
In Haryana, the Sugh mound in Yamunanagar is being encroached up on by local farmers. It was once the most prosperous and cultured city of South Asia during the time of the Buddha and King Ashoka. Several important mounds in Haryana such as Aherwan, Badhas, Amin, Sandhay and Mewat are yet to be explored by the state government. “States took more than the usual time to provide whatever half-baked information they had,” Gauri told this newspaper.
Gauri’s organisation, the Buddhist Forum, is creating a replica of an Ashokan Pillar in Topra village. Feroz Shah had uprooted the pillar, which originally stood in Topra. Presently, it is in Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi. The organisation also wants to hold an international conference on King Ashoka and rajdharma to educate contemporary politicians about the Indian heritage of peace and values in public life.