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Madras High Court asks Archaeological Survey of India to set up site museum

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | GOKUL VANNAN
Published Jun 24, 2017, 8:15 am IST
Updated Jun 24, 2017, 8:15 am IST
State to give financial assistance for Keezhadi excavation.
Artifacts unearthed at Keezhadi near Madurai. (Photo: DC)
 Artifacts unearthed at Keezhadi near Madurai. (Photo: DC)

MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High court has directed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to establish a site museum at Keezhadi in Sivaganga district with financial assistance from the Tamil Nadu Government. Advocate Kanimozhi Mathi from Chennai, who filed a petition in the division bench comprising Justices A Selvam and N Authinathan, seeking to direct the ASI not to shift the antiquities to its head office at Bengaluru (the Keezhadi Heritage place comes under Bengaluru circle), on Friday informed the court that the state government had allotted two acres of land for setting up the site museum.

As the ASI has not granted permission for setting up the site museum, about 5,300 artifacts unearthed at Keezhadi near Madurai during the first two phase of the excavation - which proved to the world that an ancient urban civilization had existed in Tamil Nadu since the Sangam age along the Vaigai river - were kept in open space and in a tent sheds without proper protection, she claimed.

 

Responding to this, the special public prosecutor P Govindarajan confirmed to the court that two acres of land has been allotted for this purpose near the site. When the court asked for ASI counsel's opinion, he did not raise any objection for setting up of the site museum. However, the counsel clarified that it would be appropriate to construct and display the artifacts in the site museum after ASI completed the documentation of the antiquities. The ASI did not give any commitment on funds needed for its construction so far.

At this juncture, Mr. Justice Selvam observed that the State government should not have waited for the petitioner to take up this issue in the court. By now it should have acted on its own to preserve Tamil traditions and heritage, said the judge. Meanwhile, advocate Kanimozhi Mathi also filed fresh petition challenging the transfer of the ASI superintendent Amarnath Ramakrishna from Keezhadi site to Guwahati Circle of ASI in March this year.

 

She expressed fear of the records being misinterpreting Tamil history if the artifacts were documented by the ASI in his absence. After recording his arguments, the court directed the ASI to file its counter and posted the next hearing to July 23.

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