GUWAHATI, June 22 � City-based voluntary organisation Citizens First has demanded a comprehensive study by experts on the possible impacts of the proposed Guwahati-North Guwahati ropeway on the historical sites of Umananda and Urvasi and also on the archaeological monuments located on them, prior to undertaking construction of the ropeway.
The voluntary organisation argued that this is needed to ensure safety of these monuments that form a part of the rich cultural heritage of the State�s people, while adding that the empowered authorities ought to engage the public when taking up projects in sensitive and historically significant sites.
It pointed to the fact that there are three historical monuments that include the old ramparts and the gateway atop Umananda island that will be just about 20 metres away from the proposed Trestle-3 of the ropeway when it is completed.
It has alleged that there are a lot of gray areas in this proposed ropeway. Therefore, it is logical that the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), which has proposed to build this ropeway, should become more transparent in dealing with this project, said the voluntary organisation.
Listing the probable factors like the firm engaged in building the ropeway not having any knowledge to execute the ropeway project, the design of the foundation being faulty, or substandard materials being used in constructing it, for the tilting of Trestle No-2 of the ropeway even before it was subjected to any load, the voluntary organisation wondered as to who will be responsible for repaying the money wasted on this Trestle.
It has alleged that while excavating the foundation for Trestle-3, a lot of stone and brick material of the past was dug out, and these instead of being catalogued and stored, were strewn all over the site. Should a Government department that is so indifferent and apathetic to the history, tradition and culture of Assam be given such unfettered control over new constructions in sensitive sites like the Umananda and Urvasi islands, it wondered.
Commenting on the assertion made by the official authorities that since Umananda Island is not a protected archaeological site, and thus the civil administration can handle matters related to the island, the voluntary organisation said that when discussing sites of historical and cultural significance, merely quoting rules and regulations do not do justice to the matter.
The Umananda Temple and the island on which it stands have been held sacred by the local populace for many centuries, and if we were to look at the bigger picture, it is the people of Assam that are its true owner, and the Government is just the caretaker of this public place, and it cannot unilaterally decide on how to �develop� or improve it, said the voluntary organisation.