Conservationists oppose new building inside temple

Located about 74 metres away, it is within the protected area

Construction of a multi-storied building within the protected area of Brahadeeswarar Temple at Gangaikondacholapuram in Ariyalur district has raised concern among conservationists.

The building is coming up about 74 metres away from the protected area of the temple on Chidambaram-Tiruchi Road. Besides earthwork, foundation for the building has been completed and brick work has commenced.

A resident of Gangaikondacholapuram, who holds the title of the land, is alleged to be constructing a hotel in violation of the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act 1958.

Conservationists fear that the proposed building, if it is allowed to be completed, will obstruct the view of the temple, a UNESCO world heritage monument maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

According to the Section 2 of the AMASR Act, no construction is permissible within 100 meters of the protected boundary of the monument, which is declared to be of a national importance by the Act. Section 19 of the Act provides powers to the Central government to remove any building constructed within the protected area in contravention of the Act.

Petition to Collector

Strongly opposing the construction, a group of conservationists have sent a memorandum to the Collector, the Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, Chennai Circle, Conservation Assistant, Sub Circle, ASI, Thanjavur, Superintendent of Police and Revenue officials, seeking their intervention to stop the construction.

“We are pained to see the construction within the protected area. It will obstruct the view of the grandeur, historic and magnificent temple,” said R. Rajaraman, conservationist, Gangaikondacholapuram.

P. Senthil, a resident of Gangaikondacholapuram, has filed a public interest litigation in the Madras High Court, which is expected to take up the case for hearing shortly.

When contacted, an official of ASI Sub Circle in Thanjavur told The Hindu that the construction was against the provisions of the AMASR Act. A notice had been issued to R. Lakshmanan of Gangaikondacholapuram to stop it immediately.

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