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Tojo-Vikas: Surveying for truth in Ayodhya
Josy Joseph in New Delhi |
March 11, 2003 00:48 IST
Chaos prevails in Kalkaji, a housing colony with several crowded, mostly unplanned market places, in south Delhi.
Here, on the ground floor of the Sharda Chamber, a dull, commercial complex, is Tojo-Vikas International (Private) Limited, the company that conducted the underground survey of the disputed site in Ayodhya.
On March 5, after going through Tojo-Vikas' report and other arguments, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court asked the Archaeological Survey of India to excavate the disputed site to determine whether a temple existed there.
Tojo-Vikas has been asked to provide technical assistance to the ASI.
In the small, cramped office of Tojo-Vikas, its managing director, Rajeev Rishi, is shy of the media, proud of his company and reassuring in his intentions. "We have given a professional finding. A professional finding is a professional finding; it doesn't have any leanings. What we can say we will say, whether people like it or not," he told rediff.com
He did not say anything more about the survey, which was conducted in January using ground-penetrating radar.
The survey said there are structures "ranging from 0.5 to 5.5 meters in depth that could be associated with ancient and contemporaneous structures such as pillars, foundation walls, slab flooring, extending over a large portion of the site".
However, the exact nature of these structures, Tojo-Vikas told the court, has to be established through "systematic ground truthing, such as provided by archaeological trenching".
And as the court ordered that "truthing", two geophysicists from Tojo-Vikas reached Ayodhya to assist ASI experts in the excavation.
Limelight is new to Tojo-Vikas, but not contingencies. The company, which has an annual turnover of around Rs100 million, regularly deals with crises.
One evening, the chairman of the Surat municipal corporation rang up Rishi and asked him to send some experts to inspect whether a causeway, for separating a river mouth from the Arabian sea, had any hollowness.
Another day his experts flew down to Andhra Pradesh to deal with a leakage in the Prakasam Barrage.
The company is one of India's pioneers in investigating underground systems, dams, bridges, water sources, foundations etc.
For its job, the company deploys an array of sophisticated equipment and techniques, including satellite imagery, GPR and seismic tomography. Tojo-Vikas is probably the only private company that gives such a combination of cutting edge technology, Rishi said.
So when the railways was struggling with a crack at one end of a bridge on the Jammu-Udhampur link, which is yet to be completed, Tojo-Vikas stepped in. The defect was rectified on its recommendations, Rishi said.
Tojo-Vikas introduced GPR in India around six years ago when it was engaged by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to investigate underground utilities such as water lines and cables for the Khalsa College-Central Secretariat underground corridor.
Today, in Delhi it is compulsory for all companies laying underground cables to have a GPR survey done before undertaking trench-less boring.
Incidentally, Tojo-Vikas has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bharati Cellular Limited, which owns the Airtel mobile network, to undertake their GPR surveys before their cables are laid.
Rishi is battling to convince the bureaucracy to use his cheaper but sophisticated technological offerings.
The company has been doing it ever since Rishi quit his job with Uptron, the UP government company that used to manufacture, among other things, televisions.
He named the company after his kids -- Toto and Jojo are their nicknames -- and his younger brother Vikas.
Today, he has an impressive list of advisors, board of directors and 15 geophysicists.
The chief geophysicist, Claude Robillard, who was involved in the Ayodhya survey, is based in Canada.
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