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At the time when worldwide debates have started among Buddhists scholars and devotees, historians and archeologists on the fate of ancient Vikramshila Buddha Mahavihara, the union ministry of tourism ( Swadesh Darshan Division) has failed to reply properly on a RTI question on the fate of Vikramshila Buddha Mahavihara and the proposed central varsity.
Vikramshila Buddha Mahavihara located some 48 east of Bhagalpur district headquarters yet not included either in UNESCO’s world heritage site or even in Buddha Circuit despite the fact that due to Vikramshila Buddhism today could survive on the world map.
Ironically, even after spending over 2 years nothing was happened for the proposed central University which earlier in 2015 was announced by the central government in the name of ancient Vikramshila. Government of Bihar was assigned for selecting 500 acres of lands of the proposed central varsity, failed to do it.
Earlier RTI activist, Ajit Kumar Singh sought the reasons for neglecting this unique heritage which has worldwide significance particularly would Buddhism and contemporary historical significance
of the time of this ancient seat of learning.
In reply to the RTI by Singh, Suman Billa, first appellate authority joint secretary, Tourism admitted that Swadesh Darshan Division of union tourism ministry was responsible for developing such tourists sites. “The ministry of tourism provides central financial assistance to state government/UTs for projects are sanctioned subject to availability of funds, submission of suitable detailed project reports, adherence to scheme guidelines and utilization of funds released earlier,” it underlined.
It mentioned earlier construction of cultural centre adjacent to Maya Sarovar on the western side at Bodhgaya, in Bihar, in 2014-15, development of Buddha circuit in Sanchi-Satna-Rewa-Mandsaur-Dhar in Madhya Pradesh in 2016-17 and development of Buddhist Circuit in Srawasti , Kushinagar and Kapilvastu in Uttar Pradesh in 2016-17 was sanctioned by the ministry only after fulfilling all the criteria.
In the question by Singh of on basis Nalada contemporary to Vikramshila was attached to Buddha Circuit while Vikramshila was left, Billa replied that the prime minister has announced special package for Bihar in 2015 under which ‘development of Buddha circuit : Vaishali and Bodhgaya along with other places including Vikramshila’ has been identified. The state government of Bihar has submitted the project proposal for the cited circuit in May 2017. The same is being examined as evaluated by the ministry under the scheme.
It further added that the nomination of heritage sites in India for inclusion in the world heritage list does not come under purview of ministry of tourism. So he asked Singh to take the issue to concern department/ ministry.
“Is the central government really serious about Vikramshila?” asked N K Jaisawal, the president of Vikramshila Nagrik Manch, a Kahalgaon based body to fight for the cause of this ancient world heritage site. Shiv Shanker Singh Parijat, an expert in Vikramshila affairs however blamed the hostile attitude of the Nitish government in Bihar. “If the state government is not paying proper attention towards Vikramshila, if it yet not prepared the blue prints or place the demands for the ancient world University, how central government would act for it?” he logically asked.
Many people blamed Nitish government for ignoring Vikramshila. “The RTI reply clearly indicated the lapses by parts of the state government; central could not do anything except the corporation of any state government. And why Bihar government yet not even taken initiatives for projecting Vikramshila?,” is the common question on many lips here.
“The state government has playing politics with Vikramshila since long just for Nalanda, the home constituency of Nitish Kumar. Nitish never wants Vikramshila’s development for the sake of Nalanda while the two are equally important and have different significances,” alleged Rajiv Siddharth, president of Eastern Bihar Press Club, a body of scribes. Eastern Bihar Press Club has been also fighting for the cause of Vikramshila since long and recently unveiled a souvenir on the ancient seat of learning in the hands of president of India, Pranav Mukherjee on April 2017.
Swadhin Sen, archaeologist, department of archaeology, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh who recently visited the half-excavated ruins of Vikramshila, was literary shocked to witness the treatments that are given by the government to this unique world heritage site. Sen who has been conducting some research, said that many majors works like more excavation which yet not done was the need of the hour because entire world eagerly wants to know more about Vikramshila. “We have been here for research works but the local government should pay proper attention towards this ancient Buddha Mahavihara. And the proposed central varsity should be here since it has the potentiality to deliver new massage to the world,” he said.
(to be concluded)