Cultivation of paddy and sugarcane pose a threat to the conservation of the historical Hampi group of monuments, says UNESCO in its “State of Conservation” report on the World Heritage Site. Though the recently-published report commends the Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority (HWHAMA) – which manages the site – for progress in numerous issues, it flags irrigation for water-intensive agriculture, traffic close to the site and seasonal flooding of the Tungabhadra as challenges.
The threat of agriculture, explains archaeologists, is water-logging that weakens the foundation of minor monuments situated on farm land. There have been incidents of monuments sinking or damage caused due to dampness and wetness.
The HWHAMA had, in their submission to the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO in February, expressed the same concern and had even chalked out a broad plan involving awareness on sustainable practises to protect monuments and artefacts that might be lying buried in the area. The UNESCO report, however, praises the efforts of the authority in clearing debris from the collapsed Anegundi bridge. It must be remembered that construction of the bridge had put the site in the “danger” category between 1999 and 2006.Mohit M. Rao