Plea to stop quarrying near hill in TN

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Madurai, Mar 21: The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court has directed the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, Department of Archaeology, Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu and Madurai District Collector to file reply in two weeks on a plea seeking to save the Jain abode of Pancha Pandavar Hill, near Keelavazhavu, from destruction.

Ms Bhuvaneshwari and Pondi of Keelavazhavu in Madurai District, in a petition, contended the Pancha Pandavar Hill was of archaeological importance.

It had a series of stone beds of Jain monks carved in granite, dating back to second century BC besides numerous Brahmi inscriptions dating to ninth century.

The hill and the site were under the control of Department of Archaeology. The Department of Mines of the Government of Tamil Nadu had permitted granite quarrying around the hill causing irreparable damage to the ancient site.

The Madurai District Collector had granted permission for quarrying granite on 8.6 acre of land around the hill.

On November 30 last year, the Keelavazhavu Panchayat adopted a resolution seeking a ban on quarrying around the hill.

The residents of the village also submitted a petition to the Deputy Director of Mines seeking a ban on quarrying granite for 300 metre near the hill.

They also submitted petitions to the Director of Central Archaeology Department. But so far no action had been taken.

The petitioners prayed the court for a direction to appoint an experts committee to visit the hill for an on-the-spot study and impose a ban on quarrying in the area.

A Bench comprising Mr Justices P Murugesan and P K Mishra, before which the petition came up for hearing last evening, directed notices to the concerned returnable in two weeks.

UNI GSM RL PM1141

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