Bombay High Court Issues Notice To Centre, ASI On Plea Seeking Protection Of Rock Carvings In Konkan

Bombay High Court Issues Notice To Centre, ASI On Plea Seeking Protection Of Rock Carvings In Konkan

The Barsu-Solgaon area in the Konkan region is a proposed site for a mega oil refinery. The PIL has expressed apprehension that the project may end up harming the rock art petroglyphs.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Monday, March 11, 2024, 06:40 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | File

The Bombay High Court on Monday issued a notice to the Union government and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) seeking their response to a PIL seeking protection and preservation of ancient rock art petroglyphs or geoglyphs found in the Konkan region that are included in the UNESCO world heritage tentative list. 

The Barsu-Solgaon area in the Konkan region is a proposed site for a mega oil refinery. The PIL has expressed apprehension that the project may end up harming the rock art petroglyphs. 

Rock art petroglyphs being destroyed

During the hearing on Monday, the advocate for the petitioner, Gayatri Singh, pointed out that there was urgency claiming rock art petroglyphs were being destroyed. 

The court then asked advocate for the Union government to take instructions. "See if these carvings can be saved? If an international body (UNESCO) can be so sensitive, why not ASI?" a bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor asked. 

"Ask ASI officer to visit spot and make own assessment"

The court also asked the Union counsel to ask an officer from the ASI to visit the site and conduct a spot assessment. 

"If possible, ask some ASI officer to visit the spot and make his/her own assessment. If he finds petroglyphs to be protected, consider it. It is up to you to decide. Ultimately it is going to be to your satisfaction (to decide on its heritage status),” the CJ said. 

PIL by three Ratnagiri farmers

The HC was hearing a PIL by three farmers from Ratnagiri – Ganpat Raut, Ramchandra Shelke and Mahendra Gaurav – seeking directions to the ASI and the Union to initiate proceedings under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, to protect the geoglyphs included in the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list. It said that these geoglyphs/petroglyphs “which date back at least 10,000 years and are at risk of permanent damage and destruction due to the inaction of the respondents ( State, ASI and Union)."

It sought that as an interim relief, no developmental or industrial work be allowed in and around the sites where geoglyphs are situated in the Konkan region. 

The HC has kept the PIL for hearing on April 24.

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