High Court issues notice to govt on quarrying at Buddhist site

By Bibhuti Mishra, Sify, 13 April, 2005

Bhubaneswar, India -- The Orissa High Court has issued notices to the Central and state governments, based on a public interest petition, on the wanton quarrying by private parties at Lalitagiri, a protected Buddhist site of great historical significance.

The unchecked quarrying for laterite chips has allegedly posed a serious threat to the rich archaeological treasures that have survived the erstwhile important Buddhist centre from where corporal relics of Buddha were discovered by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Declared as a protected monument by the British and located on the plains of the Mahanadi delta, Lalitagiri consists of one long hog-backed hill, with a depression in the centre, and a small isolated knoll towards the southern side. It is a perfect mine of archaeology that is yet to be explored thoroughly.

?Sevashri?, an NGO, had filed the PIL. It stated that the tehsildar at Mahanga had leased out a part of the Lalitagiri hill to a private party for quarrying laterite chips.

Truckloads of laterite chips had been quarried from Lalitagiri over three months by the private party, the petition alleged.

A division Bench comprising Chief Justice S B Roy and Justice L K Mohapatra issued the notices while admitting the petition.