Keezhadi farmers unwilling to give land free for 4th phase of excavation

The planned fourth phase of excavation at Keezhadi archeological site in Sivaganga district has run into fresh trouble as land owners and farmers in the village refuse to lease their land for free to continue the explorations.
Keezhadi farmers unwilling to give land free for 4th phase of excavation
Keezhadi archeological site in the midst of coconut farms

Madurai

Excavations at Keezhadi commenced in 2015 and went continuously for three years till 2017. In the three years three phases of excavation got completed and the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) was in-charge of the project.
In the last three phases, more than 7,000 artifacts were unearthed. Also the proof of existence of a civilisation before 2,000 years was established in Keezhadi. However, in the third phase nothing significant was unearthed and so there were criticisms from Tamil groups that the Union government is trying to bury the evidences obtained in Keezhadi.
So, the State Archeology Department joined hands with the ASI for the fourth phase. Speaking to DT Next, an official of the State Excavation Department said only State Minister for Tamil Official language and Tamil Culture K Pandiarajan, would decide the date of commencement of excavation.
However, there is fresh trouble for the fourth phase of excavation as land owners and farmers refuse to give land for free to continue the project. Shilar Maideen, who owns a coconut farm in Keezhadi, had donated his land for free for the first phase of excavation but ASI had returned the land without covering the pits properly.
Speaking to this newspaper, Maideen said that after the excavation the land was not leveled and so he could not supply water to his coconut farm. Earlier, water channels were dug properly to reach every coconut tree but after excavation a section of his land had gone high because of the mounted soil. As a result, more than 500 coconut trees dried up.
“The farm has been inherited from my forefathers and so I wanted to preserve it. I have decided not to give the farm for free and if government wanted to continue excavation let them buy the land from us,” said Maideen.
Another farmer, Habibullah, said that it will take seven years for coconut trees to grow back and give coconuts. If land is given for excavation their livelihood would be destroyed and so the government should buy the land for a better price.
As the announcement of fourth phase of excavation is expected anytime, the process of obtaining land is going to be a tough task for officials of Revenue Department.

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