Chennai: It is going to be a dull Deepavali for over 10,000 homes in old Pallavaram as the Archeological Survey of India has announced plans to put up boundary stones after November 5. This will make it impossible for the families to either sell their land or carry out alterations to their houses as the area comes under one of the 23 megalithic sites in Chennai. Speaking to TOI on Friday, local residents who had been living there for over five decades said they were not able to conduct a wedding in the area or sell a part of their land as the area was an archaeological site. The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, (AMASR) 2010, is under implementation in the area, and this restricts any activity in monuments protected by the ASI.

The high court recently directed the ASI to identify archaeological sites and constructions within 100 to 300 metres of these and submit a report to the court on November 5 after a resident of Subham Nagar petitioned the court that he could not sell his land. Residents living on the megalithic sites in the city outskirts, including Pallavaram, Tambaram and Sembakkam, are among those affected.

“We have been living here for more than five decades. We cannot sell a part of our land to get our daughters married and the land rates have plummeted due to this ban. The court and the authorities should come to our aid and end this ban,” said G Vijaya, a resident.

Pallavaram is home to 34,450 people, many of whom began constructing houses in the area about two decades ago. Residents of survey numbers 56 and 63, surrounding parts of Shubham Nagar, Zameen Pallavaram, KGK Nagar and Kamakshi Nagar are among those affected.

Pallavaram municipal councillor M Chandrakesavan said the prices of many houses and plots which have a legal status have plummeted since buying and selling of property has become impossible after the ASI’s notification. He said the high court and the state government should ensure that residents were not harassed and they should put an end to this ban.

More than a century ago, British archaeologist Robert Bruce Foote unearthed a stone implement dating back to the early Palaeolithic age near a hillock at Pallavaram. The 1864 discovery established the oldest human settlement in the country and also gave a historical identity to a group of villages that formed Pallavarapuram or Pallavaram.

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Source: TOI-Che