The 100-metre long tunnel access to Madhya Pradesh’s pre-historic Mahakaal temple has become a dug-up risk for the temple structure, conservationists said on Thursday.
The Ujjain Municipal Corporation (UMC) had begun its construction in 2012 to ease visitors’ rush during special occasions with a promise to complete it within two months. However, almost three years have passed and the tunnel is just half-way.
According to the project layout, the six-metre deep and 30-metre wide tunnel passage will connect the temple complex with a multi-storeyed visitor’s facility at the cost of Rs 6 crore.
The tunnel will convey visitors to the queue area within the temple from a 100 metre away facility. After darshan, they can make their exit from the common temple gate.
However, the project has faced severe criticism from conservationists and temple priests who said the trenching was a big risk for the age-old temple structure.
Conservationist Satyanarayana Purohit said that due to the tunnel construction, rainwater had entered the sanctum sanctorum during the monsoon posing a risk to its foundation.
He regretted that the corporation was going ahead with the project despite MP high court and archeologists’ suggestion that construction activity should be stopped and the temple be protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958.
But, the central and the state governments have ignored the recommendations.
However, project in-charge Piyush Bhargava said that the work was on full swing and it would be complete well before Simhastha mela, which is scheduled in April 2016.
He denied that the construction activity was in anyway threat to the temple as it was being carried out 150 feet away from the complex.
The visitors’ facility, besides providing accommodation to the pilgrims, will have a Bharat Mata temple too.