site status for Bodh Gaya Temple
THE TIMES OF INDIA NEWS SERVICE
GAYA -- Showing interest in the government
of India's proposal to include the world famous Mahabodhi Temple, the seat of Buddha's
enlightenment, in the prestigious list of world heritage sites, the UNESCO has sought some
clarifications from the Union government.
According to official
sources, the Union government's proposal to include the temple in the list of world
heritage sites came up for discussion at a UNESCO meeting held in Paris last month. The
meeting also considered the report submitted by UNESCO expert Koji Nishikawa who visited
Bodh Gaya a few months back to conduct an on-the-spot study of the proposal.
While appreciating the
proposal in view of the importance of Bodh Gaya as a spiritual centre, the UNESCO official
decided to seek some clarifications before granting world heritage site status to the
The information sought by
the UNESCO include the details about the "ownership and management" of the
Mahabodhi Temple, detailed map of the temple and its adjoining areas, status of the buffer
zone to preserve and protect the monument and retain the surroundings and the future
In order to formulate the
response of the Union government to the queries made by the UNESCO, Union tourism director
Ashwini Lohani convened a meeting in New Delhi on July 27 and 28 which was attended by
Gaya district magistrate (DM) Amrit Lal Meena as the representative of the Mahabodhi
Temple Management Committee and the state government.
On the point of ownership
and management of the temple, the UNESCO would be informed that the temple ownership vests
in the government of Bihar and its management is conducted by a committee of nine members
nominated by the state government with a Hindu DM as its ex-officio chairman. If the Gaya
DM happened to be a non-Hindu, the state government nominates a Hindu as the committee
chairman for the period during which the DM's post is held by a non-Hindu. Four
representatives of the Buddhists are also included in the committee. The `mahanth' of Bodh
Gaya is the permanent member of the temple management committee.
When contacted, Meena
said that the detailed maps along with other information sought by the UNESCO would be
sent to the Union tourism ministry within a week for being forwarded to the UNESCO.
Explaining the buffer zone concept, he said that no structure within a radius of one
kilometre from the centre of the Mahabodhi Temple can have a height of more than 33 feet.
The height limit for structure within a radius of one to two km from the temple's centre
has been fixed at 44 feet.
The DM said that
buildings more than 33 feet high within a one km radius from the temple would be
demolished. He also admitted that blatant violation of the Bodh Gaya master plan has been
done by the hoteliers and others. According to Gaya Regional Development Authority
sources, hotels have come up in areas reserved for monasteries and greenery in Bodh Gaya.