Forest Department has under its purview a large area of the site, mainly the Pavagadh Hill and the buried Sultanate city. The forest act is very powerful and has successfully controlled development in the forest land thereby protecting the authenticity of the site. But, at the same time, its obligation of planting fresh saplings every year has proved to be a big threat to the archaeological heritage. The roots of the plantations are slowly harming the vulnerable heritage buried below the earth. (Refer Figure 5). The overgrown forest also makes accessibility to most structures very difficult leading to their subsequent deterioration.
ASI protects, out of the identified 114 structures, only a mere 55 and that too in isolation. It has created islands of protected territories within the entire Archaeological Park. Paradoxically enough, it was the ASI which nominated this place as a site to WH committee; but when it comes to protection it can not see beyond its 100/300 m absurd irrational law.
To add to that the State Department of Archaeology has just one monument under its jurisdiction i.e.,
the Gaben Shah Vav. (Refer Figure 6). It protects only those buildings that are more than a 100 years of age and only the ones in stone! Its law does not allow for protection of significant buildings like Iteri Masjid, Rani no Mahal, etc.; simply because they are brick structures, in spite of their being important knowledge resource!
The District Collector and the DDO once spent enormous money and energy constructing the water facility at a heritage site. But it happened to fall within the 300 meter boundary of ASI and had to suffer demolition even before it started functioning. These uncalled-for conflicts and a constant struggle for assertion of one authority over the other are is not helping the site, rather they are wasting resources. A system is needed which enables co-ordination among various government departments.
Gram Panchayat promotes programmes for people's development like repairing of pilgrims' path, creation of tourism oriented business opportunity, etc. Recently, Gram Panchayat has constructed a school in
the Gaben Shah precinct! Now they are at logger heads with the State Department of Archaeology. Where to develop and how to develop is not known to them! These people don't know where to seek answers from and also whether they are really responsible for their provision in the most rightful sense.
The local Panchayat is taking emergency measures to reinstate the traditional water system. The will to conserve and awareness is there among the local leaders, but they lack a professional insight. Such initiatives are a big asset for the site. The need is to create situations for methodical interventions enabling convenience to whoever is concerned and empowered to take actions.
Temple trust like that of Shahji Sawai nu Deru has a precinct within the Royal Enclosure. It has already developed it as a neat RCC structure having dharamshalas and a new structure over the original mazar. As it is a private property, the trust has the freedom to develop the site as it wishes. In such situation it becomes questionable whether a uniformity and sympathetic growth is valid at all or not. If it is so, there is a lack of system that can ensure a sensitive-responsibility and an effective monitoring mechanism without one body being assertive over the other.
The living temples, which are of archaeological value, are being modified beyond recognition in the name of loving care and maintenance. Take for example, Jai Mataji Temple Trust has created fortifications and loud RCC platforms for the 'convenience of the pilgrims'. (Refer Figure 7). Even the pilgrims are happy about it. But the cultural value of the precinct is gone for a six. But again, conservation professionals have no right to 'preserve' the sanctity of this place as they understand simply because they are convinced about its value for their profession's sake alone. What is actually needed is a system which discourages haphazard interventions, and encourages pertinent development strategies resonant of the cultural values of the place?
PWD has proposed widening of the State highway that passes thru the site and it also seeks to widen the road going up to Machi! Now, if the priority is effective transportation of the people, road widening cannot be
the only solution. (Refer Figure 8). They are oblivious to or are ignorant about proposals of battery operated vehicles vying between the visitor centre and Machi so as relieve parking pressures on the Machi plateau. The state highway has been proposed to be re-routed to avoid thorough traffic in the site. But the proposals at times fail to reach the right target, hurdling effective implementation.
Champaner-Pavagadh is a water-intelligent city, envisaged so in the Rajput times and refined during the Sultanate era. At one point of time, it catered to a populace of 50,000 today it is unable to quench a mere 5,000 owing to sheer lack of knowledge about the traditional water system. In spite of recent researches and local campaigns Irrigation Department wishes to remain oblivious to such knowledge and is proposing a huge subsidiary canal from Narmada canal to be brought in to Wada Talao destroying the heritage underneath. When there are ways of avoiding destruction authorities responsible should take sympathetic attitudes, rising above individual agendas. Perhaps in the light of a missing management system, such conflicts are bound to occur.
Field owners have been carrying out agricultural activities for over 200 years now, which have already resulted in the loss of important archaeological evidence. They need to irrigate their fields and so creation of canals, digging, etc. is widespread. Their interest is their right. Then the academic conservation becomes weak for management of such a heritage site. Amity has to be ensured between these conflicting situations.
NGOs like Heritage Trust have no ownership, but they have in their kitty 'concerned and sensitive professionals' and so were entrusted the task of repairing Malik Sandal ni Vav at Mandvi village. The conservation intervention may have been done correctly; it may have had flaws too? Who monitors such actions? The funding agency is merely concerned about the immediate product-oriented targets set and is blithe about the
relevance of individual interventions vis-à-vis the over all site. (Refer Figures 9, 10). Because such projects can only be granted to individual professionals, there is a need for a system that safeguards a consistency among all such individual conservation interventions in such a complex site.
Residents of the Champaner village who unfortunately stay within the Royal Enclosure cannot even get a toilet constructed in their house, because it falls within the ASI protection. (Refer Figure 11). These residents have been staying here long before the enactment of ASI law, yet they have to suffer. It is difficult to ensure hygiene and good life-style to local residents if ASI laws remain as stringent without any scope for flexibility.
Tourism Department is happy having their agendas relegated to mere provision ofpublic conveniences when today the site needs educative, interactive, participatory modes of tourism especially, in the wake of this being an intense pilgrimage site and a potential knowledge resource. (Refer Figures 12, 13).
Western railways have an abandoned railway track cutting through the forest on the site. This can innova-tively be clubbed with the tourism experience, it being a fantastic resource. A system has to look at potentials and constraints of such resources lying strewn across the site.
A vast number of pilgrims and tourists visiting the site make it very susceptible. They are a major source granting stable economy to the local residents so key efforts go into pleasing them often overlooking the vulnerability of the site.
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