Chennai: Directing the Tamil Nadu government to provide necessary police protection to the ASI officials and other workers for fencing the pre-historical archaeological site at Pallavaram, the Madras high court has posed three queries to the Union government, which included the one why not the ASI appoint more epigraphists in Tamil language, since most of the stone inscriptions in India are found to be in Tamil and epigraphists in other languages as per their requirement.
Justice N. Kirubakaran gave the directive while dealing with the matter relating to archaeological site at Pallavaram.
Suo motu impleading the director, Epigraphists Branch, Archaeological Survey of India, Mysore, as a party, the judge said assistant solicitor general G.Karthikeyan has taken notice on behalf of the newly impleaded party and undertaken to get reply for the queries.
The other two queries posed by the judge are: Why not the ASI start a epigraphists branch at Chennai and why not the ASI transfer all the artefacts and Tamil inscriptions to Chennai.
The judge said it was represented by ASG as well as the ASI officials who were present before this court that when the ASI officials along with the workers went to the pre-historical archaeological site at Pallavaram for fencing the area which were not so far encroached upon, there was a vehement opposition by the local people and in spite of police protection, the ASI officials were unable to carry out their work. Even on earlier
occasion, when a joint survey was sought to be conducted, there was opposition by the local people and only with the aid of the police protection the survey could be completed and the most of the people in the locality were assured that their possession of properties would not be disturbed.
Further, only a few extents of properties alone remain unoccupied and therefore, they have to be protected by fencing. Further more, out of the six patches of archaeological site, one patch was already successfully fenced by using MS Steel grills and the rest of the lands need to be fenced. Advocate General Narmada Sampath and SGP T.M.Pappiah assured before this court that proper police protection would be provided so that fencing could be done by the ASI officials at the earliest, the judge added.
The judge said with regard to the usage of ground penetrating radar system to find out the artefacts beneath the ground, it was represented by the ASI officials that the said lands need to be necessarily fenced before using the technology. He reiterated that even if artefacts were not found, the said area needs to be preserved and protected. Therefore, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, St Thomas Mount, was directed to provide appropriate police protection to the ASI officials and workers to fence the identified areas and file a report before this court, the judge added.
The judge said it was also reported in a Tamil newspaper dated August 27, 2019, that copying of the stone inscription was done earlier by the British administration and it was originally preserved in Madras and thereafter at Ooty and presently shifted to Mysore. Even as per the details provided in the ASI website, the majority of the stone inscriptions found in India was in Tamil. Further, it was brought to the knowledge of this court that only two Tamil epigraphists were working in Mysore and they were unable to digitalize the inscriptions and in spite of request made by the Tamil Nadu government, there was no proper response from the Epigraphist branch at Mysore.
Further, the copies taken from stone inscriptions have to revalidated or digitalized within 75 years or else they would be destroyed. Therefore, to safeguard the original copies taken from stone inscriptions they have to necessarily be digitalized and the officials were to get instructions with regard to employment of more Tamil epigraphists on contract basis, so that the work could be completed on time, Further the ASI officials also need to get instructions as to when the copies taken from stone inscriptions would be transferred as per the request of the Tamil Nadu government, the judge added and posted to September 25, further hearing of the case.