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May 27, 2005

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Archives Dated: 14 May 2005

Once upon a time, govt was sensitive on rocks where Buddha wants to smile
Saturday May 14 2005 00:00 IST

BANGALORE: It was in 1984, when Bangalore was getting much attention over shooting of David Lane's `A passage to India'. At a time when it was still a closed economy, shooting of a Hollywood movie created a hype in the City.

Everything went right till the shooting was shifted to the rocky hills near Ramanagaram and the shooting team carved an artificial cave in one of the rocks. This infuriated the then Mines and Geology Director Chiranjeev Singh, who registered a protest and directed to seal the artificial cave.

Overnight the officer became a villain in the eyes of `Hollywood lovers' for daring David Lane. Ian Jack wrote about it in London Times. The whole episode caught attention of the then Prime Minister late Indira Gandhi, who shot a letter to the then Karnataka Chief Minister Ramakrishna Hegde to preserve these natural rocks.

The State Government acted quickly and directed the Mines and Geology Department to initiate action for preserving these rocks. After a thorough study, the department sent a list of about 18-22 such places, including Ramanagaram rocks, Lalbagh rocks, Sravanabelagola, Bellary fort and Hampi as `Natural Geological Monuments'. But, no one is sure if any Government notification was issued in this regard.

Now, two decades down the lane, both Indira Gandhi and Ramakrishna Hegde are no more. The officer Chiranjeev Singh, who saved rocks retired recently as Additional Chief Secretary of the State. All Singh says is that it is an unfortunate development. ``There are certain sites on the earth, which we have to preserve for the future generation.''

Ironically, the Government has given preliminary consent for Sanghamithra Foundation to carve a mammoth monolithic Buddha measuring 712 feet, by carving a rock measuring over 1050 feet at Handigondi in the same premises.

When contacted Mines and Geology Director Yogendra Tripathi said that the whole issue had not come to his notice.

``I will look into the legal aspects of the issue whether we have any role to play in this episode. If we have any role to play, then we will definitely take appropriate notice of the matter,'' Tripathi added.

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