Over the next few days, an international team of conservationists will study the damage caused to the Ajanta caves because of seepage and rock fall in the last three years.
The mission is to save the world heritage site and sanction what activities can be permitted at the site. Neither the Centre nor the state will be allowed to do anything without their approval.
The expert panel of conservationists and archaeologists, appointed by the Japan Bank of International Cooperation, has reached Aurangabad and is expected to inspect the caves on Thursday and Friday.
“We have had different views from different experts over the past couple of months on the restoration. This panel will now approve what will be permitted,” said Sharma. “Their recommendation will be acceptable to the United Nations also as they are all international experts in their respective fields. The focus will be mainly on seepage and rock fall,” said Sharma.
The experts will also advise the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation on what kinds of activities they can allow at the site. “This is a highly technical issue and we are all looking forward to a solution.
The delegation includes some of the best conservationists of the world and for two days, they will discuss the various aspects of preserving this monument,” said principal secretary, tourism, Bhushan Gagrani.
Among the agencies that have forwarded their recommendations to the ASI to save the cave is the Geological Survey of India. Although the problem of seepage is not new, it gained alarming proportions since 2003 when the region received record rainfall. Since then at least 10 of the 30 important caves have been found to leak during the monsoons.
This year, the situation became worse to such an extent that a dozen caves, specially the painted ones, showed signs of water seepage whenever there was heavy rain.