Megalithic burial sites of Pallavaram, Chennai, Pudukkottai district, etc.,TN - Will ASI prevent desecration and encroachments?

Megalith is  said to be a large  hard stone that was once used  o build  a prehistoric structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones primarily for burial purposes. There are over 35,000 in Europe alone,  scattered from from Sweden to the Mediterranean sea.

In India during the megalithic period (1st C AD - Sangam Period), burials were done, either in urns (in terracotta pots) or graves (direct burial). In Pudukkottai district of Tamil Nadu there are a large number of  Megalithic burial  sites in places like  Amburapatti, Ammachathiram, Annavasal, Kizhaiyur, etc. The are megalithic sites in Salem and Erode districts. Well-known sites are found in Pallavaram, a suburb of Chennai city.  Under the control of the ASI, I don't know whether they have been studied in detail by the scholars. The glitch is these sites are not protected and barricaded by the ASI because of fund crunch as well as shortage of staff. Obviously, being helpless, encroachments and  desecration of heritage sites go unchecked. It means we  miss out the social and cultural aspects of people who lived centuries ago in these areas. 

Megalithic burials in Pudukkottai dist, TN

Megalithic monument, Pallavaram, Chennai.

Megalithic cists and cairns in Pallavaram, Tamil Nadu are monuments with historical  importance and offer excellent scope for research for historians and archaeologists.   Believed to have been built  by the people in the Neolithic period, they used special tool like chisel to deeply carve the  boulders on the hardrock terrain. They are said to have been   burial sites  during the Pallava time centuries ago. The buried people would have  resided in and around the area. This national monument of India portrays the history and culture of the country.

 Among the 23 megalithic sites in Chennai, Pallavaram has a preponderance of 34,450 people living in the listed monument sites by encroaching upon them illegally. The are said to built homes   decades back and have been there since then.   Panchayat/town Survey numbers 56 and 63 comprise  parts of  Shubham Nagar, Zameen Pallavaram, KGK Nagar, Kamakshi Nagar, etc.forming small clutchers of blocks primarily for residential purposes. 

According to Municipal office, many houses and plots that have a legal status with valid papers are  getting a raw deal from the  real estate mafias - a good rate per ground on the market. Part of the reason is  buying and selling of property in this  government listed monument sites has become  a tough job in the wake of  he ASI’s notification last year in 2015-16.
Above image: Here's another one of your unfinished crackpot ideas!"

The hurdle to buy a plot is  in accordance with the Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010, there should be no construction within 100 meters of the sites, and that any construction within 200 meters beyond this limit would require prior permission from the ASI. Repairs, renovations and/or new constructions within 200 metres of the excavation sites ( known as the regulated zone) can be undertaken only after obtaining a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the competent authority.

Buildings and huts were built over buried artefacts and they remain deeply buried and not   removed for decades; consequently,  residents with a proper patta orgovt.  title deed find it difficult to get a new water or electricity.

According to the ASI  notification  with respect to Pallavaram monuments,  if the sites owned by the residents are chosen for research  or detailed survey by the govt. they will be classified as “Prohibited” or “Regulated.” 

Effectively this ASI regulations mean the  home owners in these areas  would not be able to undertake any construction or alterations in their property. The history of this struggle goes back to the early colonial  period of 20th century.  In 1904, the ASI carried out a study of ancient  burial sites in Tamil Nadu that would be protected under the existing gazette of the time and since then building a house or a structure has been subject to scrutiny by the ASI. 

A detailed study of these archaeological remnants of megalithic rocks has to be undertaken that may  reveal many more secrets of the lives and culture of the megalithic cultures that thrived in India  way back in the past. The government has to come up with a viable  solution to stop the confrontation between legal owners and the state agency. Both sides have to sit down and settle the longstanding issues; the sooner they do it, the better.