ASI preps for G20 group’s March visit, asks Nalanda admin to clear encroachments


PATNA: The Patna circle of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has asked the Nalanda administration to remove all unauthorised construction around Nalanda University by December 31 in view of the scheduled visit of G20 ‘engagement groups’ to the Unesco world heritage site in March next year.

“The engagement group of the G20 will also be visiting the UNESCO sites in Bihar, Nalanda University at Nalanda and Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya. I have sent a letter to the district magistrate of Nalanda and have urged him to clear all encroachments and unauthorized constructions around the ‘Nalanda Mahavihara’ by December 31,” Goutami Bhattacharya, ASI superintending archaeologist, Patna Circle, said.

Bhattacharya said meetings of the G20 engagement groups were scheduled in Patna and some other locations of the state on March 6 and 7 next year.

During the group’s visit to Bihar, Bhattacharya said the foreign delegates are expected to visit several monuments including Nalanda Mahavihara, Swarn Bhandar Caves, Cyclopean wall, Sujata Stupa, Banganga, Maniyar Math, in Nalanda and Gaya districts. Besides, delegates will also visit the ancient Mahabodhi temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in Gaya on March 6, she added.

India formally assumed the G20 presidency from Indonesia on December 1. The G20 or Group of 20 is an intergovernmental forum of the world’s major developed and developing economies. Last month, Indonesia handed over the G20 presidency to India in the presence of PM Modi at the Bali summit for the coming year.

The government has decided that 200 meetings will take place across 55 cities over the next year. PM Narendra Modi has told the states that the visits be turned into an opportunity to showcase parts of the country beyond the big metros to bring out the uniqueness of each part of the country.

“I have reminded Nalanda DM in the letter that he must be aware that India has assumed the presidency of G-20 nations from December 1 onwards and as part of the year-long meetings and excursions of international delegates, they are scheduled to visit ASI protected sites at Rajgir (Nalanda) and Nalanda Mahavihara on March 7 next year.

She added that the area around the nationally protected sites at Rajgir and Nalanda needed to be spruced up and the unauthorised shops on either side of the entrance to the protected sides cleared.

Bhattacharya said ASI has illuminated eight of its nationally protected monuments in the state with decorative lights and G20 logo. The eight archeological sites are Nalanda Mahavihara, Swarna Bhandar caves, Cyclopean Wall at Rajgir, Vikramshila Mahavihara at Bhagalpur, Sher Shah Suri’s tomb at Sasaram, Kolhua Stupa in Vaishali and Kesariya Stupa in West Champaran.

Nalanda district magistrate Shashank Shubhankar said his office hasn’t received the formal communication till Friday evening but has started working to clear the encroachments. around the ancient university.

He said the administration has identified about 100 unauthorised shops and served them notice. “We have also given them the option to shift to some other areas. An alternative land has already been identified for them,” he said.

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