MADURAI: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has confirmed the transfer order of Superintending Archaeologist (SA) K Amarnath Ramakrishna, in charge of the Keezhadi excavation site, after the Bengaluru Bench of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) directed it to consider his representation to retain him.
Underlining its new transfer policy, which states that the tenure of an SA in a particular circle is only for two years, the ASI said Amarnath has completed more than three years at its Excavation Branch VI, Bengaluru, under which the Keezhadi site falls. Unlike the other discoveries including Arikamedu and Adichanallur, which were burial sites in the State, Keezhadi was the first riverbed civilization discovery. After Kaveri Poompattinam, it is the first large-scale human habitat excavated.
While the Union Ministry of Culture and Tourism has given permission for the third phase of excavation, the ASI has issued a transfer order to Amarnath. Challenging the order, Amarnath moved the Bengaluru Bench of CAT, which in turn directed the ASI to consider his representation to retain him and pass an order within three weeks.
ASI Director (Administration) P G Kaladharan, on April 21, confirmed his transfer to its Guwahati Circle stating that it could not consider his request as the transfer was made based on the transfer policy issued on September 6, 2016.
“The submission made by him that his transfer to Guwahati Circle would completely jeopardize his academic ambitions to complete the excavation work at Keezhadi was contrary to his own submissions that he has been repeatedly requesting the Director General of ASI, since 2014, for transfer to the Chennai Circle for domestic reasons. If he had been transferred to Chennai Circle, he would not have been able to pursue the work at Keezhadi,” said Kaladharan who directed Amarnath to hand over charge on April 24. Deputy SA (Jodhpur Circle) P S Sriraman will take charge at Keezhadi soon.
Three other SAs - G Maheswari of Chennai Circle, T Srilaksmi of Thrissur Circle, and Viththal Badiger of Mumbai custom branch - who were transferred too have challenged the transfer policy before the Chennai Branch of CAT.
The department of Geological Survey of India, which is akin to the ASI, strictly follows the criteria of seniority and expertise when transferring employees. But the ASI has bypassed seniority and expertise, the applicants said.