The Centre on Tuesday appeared to be looking for a face saver to wriggle out of the embarrassing situation following the failure to find any gold deposits despite 12 days of digging in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh.
Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh termed the entire issue as "completely bizarre" and said he failed to understand how the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI ) got involved in such a controversial project.
Ramesh is the second cabinet minister to have questioned the government's involvement in digging. Earlier, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar had also opposed the involvement of the ASI in this work. The ASI, however, said it has no plans to stop the digging work.
Its Director General Pravin Srivastava said the digging area is now planned to be widened and dismissed reports that the work has been stopped.
"The digging is on at the same site," said PK Mishra superintending archaeologist, ASI Lucknow circle. The digging will resume on Thursday after a weekly off on Wednesday.
In its digging so far, the ASI had struck many artefacts of archaeological importance which include a brick wall, pottery shards, pieces of glass bangles, and a toy from Daundia Kheda in Unnao where a seer has claimed that a 'hidden treasure' of 1,000 tonne of gold lies buried in the ruins of the Buxar fort.