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templesThe Madras High Court today directed the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowment Department to “go slow” on conducting renovation works of temples having archaeological importance.

“We do believe that the HR&CE department must go slow in the matter of renovations of temples and heritage ought not to be destroyed”, the first Bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana said on a suo motu PIL initiated after going through some media reports.

A large number of monuments were stated to be unprotected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) or the state government without a comprehensive list of their sites, despite the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention having been ratified by India in 1977, the bench said.

Highlighting “improper” renovation works being undertaken by the government resulting in damage to idols and heritage temples, PILs were filed and the court took suo motu proceedings and appointed a committee headed by senior advocate P S Raman as amicus curiae.

The committee has already submitted two interim reports.

After going through the reports, the bench in its order said “though a National Commission for the Heritage Sites Bill was introduced in 2009, nothing has come of it.

Going through the report by the amicus curiae, the judges said that “if repairs and renovation works went on ignoring essentials, then there is every possibility of more destruction rather than repair and renovation.”

Indian Institute Technology-Madras (IIT-M) could be involved and assistance of UNESCO international experts and persons with relevant expertise and necessary equipments should be roped in.

Till such a mechanism is evolved, only urgent repairs should be done on ancient temples, the benchs said and posted the matter for further hearing to January 25, 2016

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