Villagers demand relaxation of rules

Villagers of Belavadi in Chikmagalur taluk holding protest against the Archaeological Survey of India on Monday. DH PHOTO

After ASI came forth to restore historic Veeranarayana Swamy temple in the village, the life has changed for the residents completely. A circular issued by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 1989 has put villagers of Belavadi in the taluk in trouble literally. Villagers complain that the Gram Panchayat does not allow them to repair their houses or construct a new one in the region.

“My house was damaged years ago. However, the panchayat authorities do not allow me to repair it and now I am forced to live in a hut paying rent even though I have a own house,” said Nanjundappa, a villager.

Many other villagers too face similar problem as the gram panchayat does not give permission to take up any construction work within hundred meter radius of the historic Veeranarayana Swamy temple in the village.

The ASI had sent the circular banning all development works within hundred metre radius of the temple to Belavadi gram panchayat.

Villagers residing near the temple have been running from pillar to posts to obtain building licence from the panchayat ever since the circular was issued. When all their efforts went in vain and when plea fell on deaf ears, they finally staged a protest in front of the temple on Monday. Ramanna, a villager says that ASI has asked villagers to send the plan of the house and application to its office in Bangalore.

“They told us that our application will be forwarded to the ASI headquarters in New Delhi. We will be allowed to repair our houses only after obtaining permission from the ASI officials in New Delhi. We oppose the restrictions and the officials should allow us to take up construction works,” he added. “Officials in Chikmagalur themselves are ignoring us and in such circumstance how can we expect justice from officials in New Delhi. The gram panchayat should have the power to give permission for construction works. If the panchayat does not allow us to repair our houses, then we will take up the works without waiting for their permission,” he warned.  Assitant Commissioner  Dayanand after receiving memorandum from the villagers said that as per the amended rules the ASI should set up a committee to look into the issue. The Committee will conduct survey of the temple and the surrounding regions. The committee will take a final decision on restrictions with regard to constructions, he said adding that villagers will have to wait till the committee submits a report. He promised that a meeting of villages will be convened by the Deputy Commissioner Dr N S Channappa Gowda soon to find solution to the issue.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, MLA C T Ravi said that the matter was discussed with the MP D V Sadananda Gowda. “We will take necessary steps to solve the issue,” he added.

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