• The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) stumbled upon a 1,300-year-old stupa right in the middle of a mining site in Odisha’s Jajpur district from where Khondalite stones were supplied for the beautification project around the 12th century Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri.
  • “We have managed to unearth a Buddhist stupa at the Khandolite mining site at Parabhadi in Sukhuapada hamlet in Jajpur district. Another smaller stupa has been completely destroyed due to mining at the site,” said Dibishada Brajasundar Garnayak, Superintending Archaeologist of ASI’s Puri circle, on Monday.
  • Garnayak said the stupa could be 4.5-metre tall and initial assessment showed that it may belong to the 7th or 8th century.
  • The archaeological asset was found at Parabhadi, which is situated near Lalitagiri, a major Buddhist complex, having a large number of stupas and monasteries. After discovery of the Buddhist stupa from the mining site, the ASI intervened and asked the Odisha government to stop mining through its Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC). The mining has since stopped.
  • The newly discovered stupa was possibly disfigured in an earlier period. The ASI would now attempt to fully retrieve the structure’s archaeological heritage, restore it to its original form and undertake protection of the site.
  • “The State government must conduct heritage assessment of a site, particularly when it is situated near any place of archaeological interest, before giving permission for mining. The smaller stupa, which was destroyed, cannot be restored.
  • Local people and Buddhist scholars had warned the State government against mining in the Sukhuapada hamlet as the site was part of the Lalitgiri Buddhist site. Even local artisans expressed concerns that their livelihood would be hit by the mining of Khondalite stones at an industrial scale.
  • “Those who approved the plan for carrying out quarrying at Sukhuapada should have applied their mind.
  • Knowing well that many massive Buddha statues were discovered from Sukhuapada and preserved in the museum inside the Lalitgiri archaeological site, they should not have allowed such big mining machines to be deployed there.
  • Khondalite stones were widely used in ancient temple complexes. The State government had come up with an ambitious plan to spend ₹3,208 crore under the Augmentation of Basic Amenities and Development of Heritage and Architecture (ABADHA) scheme in three years to transform Puri into a world heritage city.
  • Khondalite stones are proposed to be used widely to maintain aesthetic value of some projects such as the heritage security zone, the Jagannath Ballav pilgrim centre, Puri lake development project, the Atharnala heritage project and the Matha Development Initiative.
  • Sukhuapada was the biggest of six Khondalite stone blocks reserved for the OMC. While Khondalite mining is being undertaken across 78.3 acres at Sukhuapada, other sites include Teligarh (27.5 acres), Gobindpur (20.3 acres), Chandia (4 acres), Kundakundi Kunda stone quarry (4.67 acres) and Kurumpada decorative stone quarry (1.67 acres) in Khordha district.
  • With the ASI taking control of Sukhuapada site, the OMC may find it difficult to supply Khondalite stones for the State government’s ambitious temple development programmes.
  • It may trigger another round of confrontation between the Centre and the State government. Violation of the ASI guidelines was a major controversy surrounding the redevelopment project in Puri.


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