Miners plunder historical site in MP‘s Chitrakoot
Miners have plundered idols, sculptures and remains of ancient temples dating back to the 10th and 11th century BC buried near Chitrakoot’s Sarbhanga ashram, which is famous for footprints believed to be that of Lord Ram. A Madhya Pradesh archaeology department’s study has highlighted the loot in the area rich in bauxite, laterite and ochre.Sources said these items were stolen and smuggled during mining operations in last five years on the Sanwar Hill, where the ashram is located. The report said several idols were damaged due to use of heavy mining machinery . The heritage around another hillock near the ashram known as Siddha Pahar has almost vanished following rampant illegal mining. Lord Ram is believed to have spent nearly 12 years of exile at Siddha Pahar spread across 100 acres.

The Madhya Pradesh HC had in August 2015 ordered the archaeology department to study Lord Rama’s route as per Ramayana (Ram Van Path) during his exile. It had asked the department to conserve sites of archaeological importance along the route within three months.

The study concluded historical importance of these sites. But the department failed to notify them as archaeological sites or ancient monuments. The study was ordered after the court heard a petition alleging no inquiry or study had been conducted and these sites had not been declared protected.

Petitioner Nityanand Mishra has now decided to move a contempt petition against the archaeology department. CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan had announced all routes the Lord had taken during his exile as per Ram Charit Manas would to be conserved under Ram Van Path Project in 2007. Mishra said Rs 8 crore had been spent on the project.He added a lease for carrying out mining activities just 50m from the ashram was cancelled in 2011, but it was again allowed three years later .