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Past blocks road to the future

The proposed East-West corridor on National Highway 25 has run into a 3,000-year-old road block - the ghost of an ancient civilization.

india Updated: Feb 01, 2006 01:35 IST

The proposed East-West corridor on National Highway 25 has run into a 3,000-year-old road block - the ghost of an ancient civilization. The Jajmau hillocks encasing the relics fall bang in the way of the four-lane Lucknow-Kanpur highway, which is part of the East-West corridor connecting Porbandar in Gujarat and Silchar in the Northeast.

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has requested the state archaeology department (SAD) to allow them to cut through the mound, but the department has put its foot down. "How can the remnants of an ancient civilization be crushed under the wheels of a bulldozer," archaeologists have questioned. The NHAI is stumped and fears that it might have to divert the route if the officials stick to their guns.

"We have to build a bridge over the Ganga to streamline traffic. And it is necessary to cut a swathe through the mound. If we are unable to do so, the very purpose of the highway will be defeated," an NHAI official said. NHAI project director A.K. Gupta has petitioned the director, archeology for permission to raze the mound. But SAD is adamant. "The mound is home to an ancient civilsation. How can we allow a highway to trample it? The treasure will be lost forever," officials argued. Director, state archaeology, Rakesh Tewari says a part of the mound was excavated during the seventies. And it threw up priceless artifacts like grey and black polished wares with over a dozen patinated copper coins.

Another excavation at the site was carried under the direction of Dr K.C. Ojha and the earliest level exposed belonged to the Kushan period of the first century AD, represented by baked brick houses. Thirty-six copper coins belonging to Sikandar Lodi were also found.

First Published: Feb 01, 2006 01:35 IST