Security lapses at Nalanda ruins irk Buddhist council

by Pranav Chaudhary, TNN, Mar 4, 2015

PATNA, India -- Buddhist Monuments Development Council (BMDC), a national body dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Buddhist heritage, has expressed its deep concern over security lapses at various Buddhist sites in the state, including the famous ancient ruins of Nalanda university.

Council chairman Arvind Alok, who is currently visiting various Buddhist sites in Bihar, said he has communicated this to Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) DG and sought his immediate intervention. He said a large number of visitors visiting these sites are also causing damage to the world heritage site. "There is also an apprehension that some people may take away the scattered bricks and valuable artefacts to sell them to smugglers," Alok said, while talking to TOI over the phone.

He demanded immediate deployment of monument attendants and security people to protect the antiquities at the ancient site in Nalanda. "Most of the attendants hired for the security of the site have already retired and private security guards do not pay much attention. Such a huge complex of ancient university must be on the top priorities," he said, adding, "I have also requested the ASI DG to post a senior archaeologist at the Nalanda site immediately as only one junior officer is posted at all the nearby sites."

'Swarn Bhandar', 'Saptarni cave', 'Maniyar Math', Venuvan monastery are important archaeological sites which are directly related to Buddha and his disciples, need immediate renovation for the preservation.

'Venuvan Vihar' is the place where Buddha resided during his stay at Rajgir. The ancient Vihar is presently being looked after by forest department. It should be handed over to the ASI or state archaeology. Recently a new construction has come up inside the Vihar which may affect the archaeological glory of the place, he said.

Meanwhile, the council will start Buddhist information centres at important Buddhist places of Bihar to facilitate services to the pilgrims from September this year. It will also soon start documentation of the Buddhist remains in rural parts of Bihar, Alok said.

The council will train youth of rural areas of Buddhist places in Bihar as tourist guides with the help of Indian institute of tourism and travel management to generate employment.