Union Minister of State for Culture Dr Mahesh Sharma has dismissed the allegation that original stone carvings at Konark Sun Temple in Odisha were removed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and replaced with plain stones.

Replying to a query in this regard, after it was reported that Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had written to him with a request to conduct an inquiry into the matter, Sharma said “not even a single piece of stone has been removed” from the temple structure.

“ASI has already clarified on it. Not even a single piece of stone has been removed from any portion of the surviving structural remains of the Sun Temple, Konark,” the Union minister told thestatesman.com.

He added: “Also, no replacement of stone has been done there for conservation or repair or any other purpose in last more than a decade’s time.”

READ | ASI replaced stone carvings at Konark Sun Temple? Odisha CM writes to Centre seeking probe

Earlier in the day, referring to a news report published in an Odia newspaper, CM Naveen Patnaik wrote to the Union minister requesting him to conduct an inquiry into the matter and direct the ASI to immediately take appropriate steps for preservation and conservation of the World Heritage monument.

The CM is not known to have initiated steps to get the matter verified by state agencies first.

The Sun Temple in Konark, a masterpiece of creative genius, represents a chariot of the Sun God and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Quoting the Odia newspaper report, the CM said in the letter 40 per cent of the artistic stone carvings of the existing Konark Sun Temple had been replaced with plain stones. He also said the temple deserved more attention from the ASI than what it had got until now.