Polavaram: heritage lovers worry over damage to relics


PolavaramWith the East Godavari district officials making arrangements to complete the Indira Sagar (Polavaram) left canal works, Buddhists and heritage lovers are expressing serious concerns over the digging works that pass through Kummarilova village near Tuni, a site where remains of Buddhist pottery dating back to the Satavahana period are being unearthed by the department of Archaeology.

The left canal is intended to connect the Polavaram project site and Visakhapatnam district, so that the Godavari water could be diverted to the north Andhra, once the long-pending project is completed. As per the plan, the left main canal passes towards Paravada in Visakhapatnam via Tuni from Rajahmundry. Instead of marking the canal via Tuni town, the officials have chosen the rural route, affecting the Kummarilova, probably to reduce expenditure under the relief and rehabilitation package.

“A good number of Buddhist relics have been unearthed by the department of Archaeology in and around Kummarilova. Some of them are with the department and some others are in the possession of the Revenue department in Tuni. We have made several representations to the district administration seeking an alternative route to the canal, which are of no use,” Merapala Narayana Rao, a scholar in Buddhist studies has told The Hindu . “Sayibula Metta, a village abutting Kummarilova has a Buddhist sthupa. The canal is marked just beside the sthupa,” he says.

“We, Telugu people are lagging behind our neighbours when it comes to protecting our cultural heritage. During the Satavahana period, Kummarilova was the transit abode for several Buddhist monks. This is the reason why, pottery is being unearthed from the village and its surroundings,” says K.S.Kameswara Rao, head of the History department (retired) at the Ideal group of educational institutions. “A few years ago, the government announced that a Buddhist museum would be constructed either at Kummarilova or in Tuni and the officials kept may relics in the Tehasildar’s office at Tuni. Now, there is no word about the museum,” he recalls.

Interestingly, the department of Archaeology has no clues about the left canal works, as it has not received any official communication from the departments concerned. “We will depute our staff to the site once the works are commenced and will make arrangements to preserve whatever relics are unearthed during the process of digging of the canal. In the event of unearthing of any sthupa, we will request the officials to make slight changes to their site plan,” says G. Venkata Ratnam, Assistant Director of the Archaeology department.