CHENNAI: Contravening its own promise of safeguarding archaeological sites and stone inscriptions from quarrying activities, the state government has issued an order to reduce the buffer area from 500 metres to 300 metres to allow increased mining activities near such sites.
According to a government order issued by Industries, Investment Promotion and Commerce Department, to amend the prohibited area for the grant of lease from the archaeological sites and remains, ancient monuments within the safety distance of 500 meter from the boundary of such site by reducing the radial safety distance to 300 meter in consonance with the ancient monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 by making necessary amendments to the Rule 36 (1-A) (d).
Censuring the move, Poovulagin Nanbargal, an environmental organisation, recalled that an announcement made by minister Duraimurugan at the state assembly, who said archaeological sites, stone inscriptions, stone beds and others will be protected.
"Based on the announcement, a government order was issued in November preventing quarrying 500 meters from archaeological sites. Obliterating mineral wealth of the state for the welfare of quarry owners is condemnable. There was no reason mentioned in the government order for reducing the buffer zone. The government should make the details of persons who made requests public, " the organisation said.
The organisation added that contrary to announcing Arittapatti as a biodiversity heritage site, the government allowed quarries within 300 meters from archaeological sites.
"At a time when the state archaeological department is functioning well for the past 18 months, the order has been issued. The government should withdraw the order, " it urged.
Meanwhile, the state government has rescinded the ban for mining and quarrying activities near reserve forests in another government order.