Fossil tree near TN's Kunnam severely damaged, residents allege official apathy
Locals have subsequently demanded that the tree be properly maintained and fenced for protection.
PERAMBALUR: Alleging that lack of maintenance has inflicted severe damage on a fossil tree near Kunnam in Perambalur, activists and local residents have called for it to be moved to a government building. Time and again, fossils of trees and marine life have surfaced in Perambalur, corroborating claims that the land was once an ocean bed. In 1940, MS Krishnan, a geologist, discovered and recorded a 12 crore-year-old fossil tree in Sathanur in Alathur taluk. In 2020, several pieces of fossilised wood and branches were uncovered in Kunnam and surrounding villages, and the 7-foot-long fossil tree was found buried under stone in October 2020 near the Anaivari stream.
Locals have subsequently demanded that the tree be properly maintained and fenced for protection. But in March 2022, the fossil was buried under a newly-laid road and recovered after an outcry by local residents. It was subsequently moved to a park in the village, but the villagers continue to allege that the tree suffers from want of maintenance.
Speaking to TNIE, V Kumaresan, a resident, said, "It has been almost three years since we found the fossil tree. Despite several petitions to authorities regarding the safety of this fossil tree, no action was taken. It suffered severe damage when they tried to cut the 7-foot-long tree into several pieces to move it from the stream, and is likely to suffer even more damage with each passing day.
Several people, including many officials, are unaware of its importance." Kumaresan called for the district administration to protect it in the government building or set up a museum in the same area. "Ammonites discovered along with the tree should also be preserved here," he added.
S Sekar, another resident, said, "We are saddened that this tree, a geographical landmark, is lying without maintenance. It is common in these areas to find such fossils. But people are not aware of this. Authorities should raise awareness among the public and school students about them, only then will future generations become aware." When contacted, District Collector K Karpagam said, "Since it is in an unsafe place, I am going to move it to the Ammonite Museum to protect it."