THOOTHUKUDI: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has lodged a complaint against the contractor with the Srivaikuntam police station for “causing damages to the artefacts at Adichanallur archaeological site” in Thoothukudi.
Meanwhile, the trench reportedly dug using an earthmover for constructing a fence was levelled, after documenting the damages caused to the artefacts. An ASI archaeologist told TNIE that they have recorded the types of artefacts, including earthenware and urns damaged and disturbed by the machine, and that a detailed report would be submitted to ASI Chennai Circle. However, he refused to reveal the number of artefacts damaged.
The construction of the fence has been temporarily suspended and a complaint against the Hosur-based contractor was lodged with the Srivaikuntam police station for damaging the artefacts, he said, adding that the trench was levelled by labourers following instructions from higher authorities.
According to the complaint, the contractor used machines instead of labourers to dig a trench for erecting a see-through fence on the boundary of the ancient site. The application of machines flouted Sections 10A, 16 and 17 of The Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904; digging the site in late hours without supervision amounts to violation of the Act, the complaint said.
Speaking to TNIE, Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology Principal Secretary and Commissioner T Udhayachandran said: “We will take the matter to the knowledge of ASI to prevent any such incidents in the future.” Thoothukudi Superintendent of Police Arun Balagopalan told TNIE that an inquiry is on. A case would be filed under relevant sections after consulting with legal experts, he added.
Recently, TNIE and a few media outlets carried reports on the damages caused to the artefacts at Adichanallur archaeological site by an earthmover that dug a trench for a fence in the midnight.
Pursuant to the media reports, ASI claimed that the earthmover was used to clean the site. However, ASI sent a team to inspect the trench. The inspection done by the ASI archaeologists on Sunday and Monday revealed that urns, earthenware and articles in a 75-metre stretch were damaged.
The ASI had excavated approximately 50 cents during the two phases of excavation held between 2004 and 2006, and unearthed 169 urn burials on the site. The rest of the site, sprawling 114 acres, is yet to be explored.