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Tamil Nadu: Residents hoist black flags against ancient site survey

Tamil Nadu: Residents hoist black flags against ancient site survey
Archaeological Survey of India officials demark the site during the survey conducted in Pallavaram on Wednesday (Photo: DC)

Chennai: It was a collective movement against the Madras high court’s order at Pallavaram on Wednesday, as residents hoisted black flags to oppose the officials of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a survey at the ancient site.

After many hiccups, the court had directed the revenue department and the ASI to conduct a joint survey at the archaeological site within three days. Expecting the officials on Wednesday, residents belonging to Zamin Pallavaram, Union Carbide Colony and other areas called off work and were indulged in measures to prevent the survey. “The residents are still under fear, even though the Madras High Court assured to not demolish the properties,” said V. Santhanam, a social activist.

More than 2,000 police personnel were deployed in the suburban Pallavaram on Wednesday. Despite the convincing talks by the police, the agitated residents did not oblige as they carried out protests.

After the chaos that continued for an hour following the arrests of over 250 residents, a joint survey was taken.  “It was the government that has constructed houses for the poor at the so called ‘protected’ area in Pallavaram. They conducted a survey, despite the ASI officials stated the area to be unfit for a survey in 2014 due to the presence of many houses,” said “ M. Krishnamoorthy, a retired teacher and a long time resident of Pallavaram.

What is the ASI site about?
After the unearthing of ancient tools from Pallavaram, the ASI distinguished the locality into three categories – protected, prohibited and regulated. No construction can be carried out under any circumstances in the protected area, which falls in survey number 56 and 63 (a total of 57 acres). Residents in the prohibited area, which is over 100 metres from the protected area should seek a No Objection Certificate from ASI to carry out renovation works. Regulated area is within 200m from prohibited area, where construction can be done with approval from ASI.