Bhubaneswar, Dec 10 (PTI) There is no threat from any angle to the 13th century Sun Temple at Konark, a UNESCO world heritage site, Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said Monday.

The minister held a review meeting here during the day. It was attended by officers of the Odisha government, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), experts and other stakeholders.

After the meeting, he told newsmen that he had agreed to the state government’s proposal of constituting a committee comprising international experts to look after the conservation and preservation of the temple.

The committee will be set up within a month, Sharma said, adding that it would also examine the alleged safety threats and other conservation issues of the Sun Temple.

Stating that Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had written to him to express his concerns over the safety of the Black Pagoda, as Konark is called, Sharma said: “The examination report by technical experts from the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI) found that the safety standard of Konark Temple is more than five times higher than the minimum level.” “There is no threat to the temple from any angle,” Sharma said while rejecting the allegation that stones with carvings were replaced with plain ones by the ASI.

Since 1997, not a single plain stone has been used in the monument, he insisted.

Patnaik had written to him that plain stones were being used to replace those with intricate carvings at the sprawling temple complex which draws a large number of visitors from across the world.

Sharma said a particular guideline is followed for UNESCO heritage sites and the ASI cannot make any change to the original structures.

In regard to water logging in the temple premises during monsoon, the Union minister said powerful pumps would be used to drain the rain water from the complex.

He also said that the recommendations of the CBRI to refill sand in the Jagamohan and on the falling of stones inside the temple will be carried out soon.

The decision to remove the scaffolding from the monuments will be taken after discussion with experts, he added.

On the saline wind impact on the Konark Temple, the Union minister said large scale plantation of casuarina plants could help protect the monuments.

Odisha Culture Minister Ashok Chandra Panda said the state government was happy that Sharma accepted its proposal to set up an international experts committee.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.