Buddha statue row gets life

by Smitha Rao, TIMES NEWS NETWORK, Dec 12, 2005

BANGALORE, India -- Buddha is on the rocks again: the Centre (Central Government of India) has upbraided Karnataka for its "diametrically opposite views" on the proposed statue of Buddha at Ramanagaram. Did ecological wisdom dawn on the state government by accident?

That is the stinker the Centre has sent to the state. In a letter dated December 6, 2005, (a copy of which is available with TOI) the Union ministry of environment and forests has lambasted the state's forest, environment and ecology department for changing its stance overnight on ecological issues vis-a-vis the 712-foot Buddha statue to be carved out of the Handigondi rock.

Do a thorough field verification rather than take superficial stands that can be altered at a later date, is the Centres' parting shot.

For now, on paper the Buddha project is off simply because the state which had approved the behemoth plan, reversed its stance on the project and recommended that it be shelved.

Sources in the Sanghamitra Foundation, the organisation that has been fighting to see the project take off, say they will fight it out in the court.

While forwarding the Buddha project proposal to the Central government, authorities certified that "the project would not affect any monument of historical, religious, archeological or recreational importance... The project would not cause any environmental damage..."

This approval was granted in November 2004. In August 2005, the very department that granted unconditional approval did a 360 degrees shift and wrote to the Centre seeking withdrawal on grounds of: "antiquity of the rock, its archeological and heritage value, large variety of flora and fauna, critically endangered bird and mammal species."

Just what caused the reversal in the department's observations? "There was a lot of pressure from various quarters.

Besides the field report was done after information was collated from different quarters, it's not just one party that is to blame" acknowledge sources in the forest department.

Meanwhile, the 1,050 feet high Handigondi rock, from which a giant Buddha statue was slated to be carved out, stands as a mute testimony to controversies aplenty.
The Buddhist Channel - Donate to Support Our Work

An Appeal

In deep gratitude for your support! We are half way to meeting our target (US$ 10,400 of US$ 18,000 already achieved)!

The Buddhist Channel is a dedicated group of "mindful communication practitioners" striving to make a positive impact on the Buddhist community. We deeply believe in the power of mindful journalism and are reaching out to you with a heartfelt request for your support. Your donation, no matter the size, can make a tangible difference in the lives of countless Buddhist monastics, local communities and other dedicated engaged workers. With your help, we make their stories known, and thereby opening up avenues for them to obtain sustainable support for their work.

Please indicate whether your support will be a donation or a loan. We will get back to you via email. We thank you in advance for providing us financial relieve. May the Buddha Dharma ever be your guide and protector.

Note: To date, we have received the following:

US$ 900 from Esa Myllykoski (donation)
US$ 9,500 from Lance Edwards/Kau Soo Kin (loan)

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv