CHENNAI: Thousands of residents in suburban Pallavaram and Sembakkam near Tambaram, who have not been able to sell land or construct houses on it as it was in areas marked as restricted by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), can now breathe easy. The Centre has assured a visiting delegation from these areas that the ban on sale of land and construction in these areas will be lifted within a month.
The assurance comes after the delegation members explained to minister of state for culture Mahesh Sharma that the Chennai circle office had told the ASI director that 83% of the declared area in Pallavaram was not fit for any archaeological research since most of it was already well developed.
Dr G Maheshwari, ASI Superintending Archaeologist, told TOI that during her stint in the Chennai circle she had written to the Centre asking it to "de-protect" the Pallavaram area as it did not have any artefacts or archaeological remains.
In 2010, after an amendment to the Ancient Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act regulated construction activity in the prohibited areas of ASI monuments and sites of archaeology, property prices in Pallavaram and surrounding areas, which had several such spots, dipped. Under the amended Act, construction is banned in the prohibited area, within 100m of ASI sites, and in the regulated area, within 200m of the prohibited area, alterations can be undertaken only after obtaining no-objection certificates from the competent authority.
Federation of Civic and Welfare Associations of Pallavaram president V Santhanam said, "Residents, whose houses were in the prohibited area, could not even carry out minor alterations.'' At least 10,000 families who built houses on approved plots in survey numbers 63 and 57 in Pallavaram, classified as megalithic sites, were affected, he said. Several people in nearby Sembakkam and other areas were also affected.