Friday, April 17, 2009

Tagore's Kacharibari at Patisar losing its shine

Non-coordinated development work for poet Rabindranath Tagore's Kacharibari at Patisar in Naogaon has done some damage to this protected site, a part of national heritage.

The local administration has carried out the development work hastily in and around the Kacharibari in the last five months without informing the Department of Archaeology, the custodian of the protected site.

The local administration also claimed that the land around the Kacharibari (zamindari estate building) is a vested property, which belongs to the district administration.

On the other hand, the archaeology department claimed that some development work violated the antiquity rules and no archeological expertise was involved in the work.

Meanwhile, academicians and researchers also blamed the archaeology department for its indifferent attitude to this site of historical importance.

As part of the development work, a boundary wall was erected on the east of Kacharibari after demolishing a row of houses bearing the memories of the poet, witnesses said.

Badrul Alam, a supervising officer of the archaeology department, said any construction that may hamper taking photo of a protected site is not allowed as per antiquity rules.

But the new boundary wall is creating obstacles to taking snaps of the Kacharibari.

"A great damage was done to this site of historical importance through demolition of old houses," said Atful Haque Siddiki, a retired schoolteacher.

Moniary Union Chairman SM Faruk Bakht said a garden is being prepared inside the boundary wall while a permanent stage was built for cultural functions within the boundary wall.

A sculpture of the poet, created by a Rajshahi University student, was also placed inside the Kacharibari.

The district council has constructed the boundary wall of Rabi Sarobor (pond), reconstructed roads and planted saplings while the Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA) dug a dighi (big pond) across a road on the east of the Kacharibari.

"A replica of Rabindranath's Padma boat will be erected in the dighi… the Kacharibari will be turned into a museum and many items have already been collected from different districts to this end… all these are for beautification of the Kacharibari," said Atrai Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Zahangir Alam.

Replying to queries, Zahangir, also a researcher on Tagore, said, "We didn't touch the protected building, we have carried out the development work on the land belonging to the district administration."

"Besides, we didn't find any records showing that the archaeology department has the authority over the land. The land is recorded as a vested property," he added.

Dr M Saifuddin Chowdhury, a folklore teacher of Rajshahi University, said, "The Kacharibari is a protected monument; nobody can develop it personally without the permission from the archaeology department."

Dr M Saifuddin, who wrote a book on Rabindranath, also blamed the archaeology department for not conserving the building properly. "The present look of the Kacharibari has no similarity with the original one," he said.

Local people, however, hailed the local administration for recovering the vast land in front of the Kacharibari from illegal occupation.

When asked about the development work, Dr Shafikul Alam, director of the archaeology department, said, "Even sticking a pin in a protected site is prohibited. However, we are looking into the matter."

Two years ago, the department implemented a project to conserve the Kacharibari.

Dr Alam also refuted the allegations that the Kacharibari was not conserved properly.

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