Tangasseri Dutch cemetery, Kerala, a heritage site -poor families living there need relocation

Authorities turning a blind eye to the historical or heritage sites  is not new and it has been a sore sight across India. Reason: Dereliction of duty on the part of state officials or the Archaeological Survey of India, a central govt. agency in charge of heritage sites, etc. Kerala is no exception to it. A case in point is the Dutch cemetery in Kollam.  St. Thomas Fort (also known as Tangasseri fort), near  is a ruined one  in the beach town of Tangasseri (3.1 Mi from Kollam) on the shores of the Arabian Sea. 

Thangassery Dutch cemetery, Kerala,

1756 Dutch Fort, Kollam colonialvoyage.com

Initially a Portuguese trading post, when the Dutch became a dominating force here  in 1661 Portuguese handed over the town and the fort the Dutch who  controlled this area till 1795,when  the British East India Company took possession of the fort. The British in 1823 took  Fort St. Thomas for 20 years on lease  from  Travancore to expand the trading activities. 

familclose to the tomb. Dutch cemetery, Kollam

Dutch cemetery, Kollam, haven for poor people.
The Dutch cemetery in the historic fort at Tangasseri  in Kollam, Kerala,  has been in a state of ruin  for decades with no solution to  restoration insight. The destruction  of tombs is not due to nature -vagaries of weather, but primarily due to unwanted human activities, trespassing and slow growth of slums mostly occupied by  poor people from adjacent places.About 20 families live in a cramped place in the graveyard.  To them, their primary goal is to have a roof over the head, as the housing is costly here. 

The families here  neither care for the heritage value of the old  graveyard that was primarily used by the whites in the past era nor do they pay attention to the monument laws being in force.  In the fort built in the 18th century by King Marthanda Varma lies an important grave - it is that of  Dutch General de Lennoy.  This historical cemetery needs  immediate attention of the state and central officials. Triangular in shape, the cemetery has two sections one for the Dutch and the other one for the English. There are about 300 tombs here and the historical relevance of this site can not be ignored. In this graveyard there it is said there was a blade in good condition long ago, supposedly, a part of the guillotine among the heaps of debris. 

Located close to the St. Thomas fort and  protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), official apathy is writ all over and many nondescript structures are crumbling to become  mounds of rubble and debris. ASI took control over the Thangassery fort in the 1960s and later in the 1980s it was declared a national monument. Already many families had been living  there in the midst of mortal remains of Dutch and English under the tombs!!. These tombs have been there since 1750. The reality is since 1960 the Dutch cemetery has remained a neglected site and has never been cleaned and repaired, Nor has it been fenced property to prevent public entering the protected site. Consequently, after 1960  encroachment was on the increase during that period and it further encouraged more people o to get in there to stay as long as they could. 
ruined Tangasseri fort, Kerala. mapcarta.com

The SW monsoon  season in this part will bring in more rain and may cause further damages and the pathways in the graveyard are not visible in many places. The Dutch cemetery  carrying the legacy of the British and Dutch and their presence centuries ago in Thangassery during the 18th century is being mismanaged and the officials are not taking any steps firmly to remove the trespassers and those who have built small houses, huts  there. 

kollam, Kerala, selfstudyhistory.coma 

Can you believe some of the dwellers there take one step farther,  besides using the nondescript historical structures and relics to do their daily  laundry, etc some people have taken the liberty of  building toilets and other buildings close the tombs. Just nauseating and despicable. In a chaotic scenario that  tablets, headstones and plates with inscriptions are missing will make one understand the gravity of the situation and what kind of respect people give to those departed souls which  died centuries ago in obscurity far away from their motherland.

. The condition of the cemetery is so pathetic the epithet  on many of them are not visible .To avoid additional damages and to save the cemetery with whatever is left, the ASI has to have a tall barbed wire fence fixed all around the graveyard. Further, strict  legal action must be taken against the trespassers and those who break the laws with impunity. The 20 families that lie there need to be relocated before starting the restoration work. Historians say, it is a long way to see the old Dutch cemetery back to its old glory and honor.