Gopeshwar (Ukd), Mar 4 (PTI) Hundreds of people sat on a dharna at an ancient temple here to force the district administration to stop digging a sewer line close to its main gate saying it amounted to desecration of the shrine.

Residents of the hill town converged at Gopinath Mandir last night after coming to know that a sewer pipeline was being dug just two metres from its main gate and sat on a dharna in protest against the construction which they said was in violation of the Constitution as the ancient temple was a protected area.

Refusing to budge despite repeated attempts by the administration, the crowd of locals has been on a dharna in the temple premises in the presence of police personnel who are there to help the administration carry out the sewer line digging work.

The revered shrine, one of the Panch Kedar pilgrimage centres spread over an area of one acre at a height of 4,500 feet, is said to be 3,000 years old and is protected under the Culture Ministry’s Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act.

According to the act no construction or repair work can be taken up within 300 metres of the temple without the prior permission of the Culture Ministry.

A protester Sushila Devi said construction of a sewer line inside the temple is desecration of the centuries-old temple which cannot be allowed.

“If a sewer line is dug only two metres away from the temple’s main gate, dirty water will flow into it,” she said.

Deputy Superintendent incharge, Archeological Survey of India, Lily Dhasmana has also written to the Chamoli district administration asking it to immediately stop digging of the sewer line as it was in violation of the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act.

Locals had been protesting against the construction for the last three days but the administration went ahead with its plans and called in police yesterday starting work forcefully.

Chamoli SP Priti Priyadarshini said the police force was on the site at the orders of the DM.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.