Many ancient Buddhist sites in North India which require “immediate attention” are lying in a “state of neglect” for lack of funds and State apathy, according to Buddhist Forum, a non-government organisation working for preservation of Buddhist monuments.
The ancient Buddhist site of Taradih near the Bodh Gaya temple in Bihar where the Buddha attained enlightenment has become a “waste dump”, the Forum alleged with a picture of the site to substantiate its claim.Sidhartha Gauri of the Buddhist Forum said: “The Right to Information replies given by different States substantiate the present dilapidated condition of ancient Buddhist sites of historic importance. It shows that in most cases no money and in some quite less money has been spent because of which less maintenance work has been done.”
Mr. Gauri had asked the Archaeological Departments of eight States, including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, under the Right to Information Act for details of Buddhist sites and their maintenance from 1990 to 2011.
“The state of neglect as far as the ancient Buddhist monuments are concerned is quite disturbing at Taradih in Bihar, Sanghol in Punjab, Kamma in Rajasthan and Govind Nagar in Uttar Pradesh,” he said.Replying to the RTI query, the Himachal Pradesh Department of Culture said the State does not have any protected sites under its jurisdictions though it boasts of Dharamsala, the second home to Tibetan Buddhists. Bihar, considered the home of Buddha’s enlightenment, does not have a separate fund for Buddhist protected sites.
Uttar Pradesh claimed it does not have any “protected monument” but the Forum said an ancient site related to Buddhism in Govind Nagar, Mathura, has a signboard outside claiming that the land was “protected and anyone who makes any damage to the site will be fined Rs.5,000”.
“It therefore proves the Archaeology Department is hiding information pertaining to Buddhist monuments of the State,” alleged Mr. Gauri.The Delhi Circle of ASI said it does not have any Buddhist sites/monuments under its jurisdiction, but Mr. Gauri claimed there are two Ashoka pillars and one rock inscription listed among protected monuments under its jurisdiction.
The RTI answer from Haryana revealed that the ancient site of Sugh in Yamauna Nagar district has not been fenced yet. The State has spent Rs.2,62,938 on the stupa in Kurukshetra. There are several mounds in Aherwan, Bhadas, Ameen, Sandhya and Mewat in Haryana, but are yet to be listed under “protected monuments,” he contended.
Jammu & Kashmir has just one protected Buddhist site at Parihaspora in Baramulla, but the State has spent Rs.2,57,530 on its preservation during the past 21 years. Mr. Gauri argued the yearly budget for Buddhist sites in the State has decreased from Rs. 93,600 in 1998-99 to Rs.3,570 in 2008-09.
He said even States like Jammu & Kashmir, Bihar and Haryana which have monuments have not spent money on tourism promotion, providing drinking water, toilets and lighting at these ancient sites.