No plans to stop excavation at TN site, says minister

No plans to stop excavation at TN site, says minister

No plans to stop excavation at TN site, says minister

After battling the charge of imposing Hindi on non-Hindi speaking states, the Centre has now sought to douse the Opposition parties’ ire over allegations of attempting to “derail” excavations at the Keezhadi archaeological site in Tamil Nadu.

Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma and Union Minister of State for Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman visited the site following a row over the transfer of a superintending archaeologist, who oversaw two phases of the project.

Earlier this month, in a sudden development Amarnath Ramakrishna, who belongs to the Archaeological Survey of India’s Bengaluru office, was transferred to Guwahati in Assam.

This came a few months after the excavations at Keezhadi were halted due to lack of funds. Sharma went to the site on Friday to deny there were plans to stop excavation at Keezhadi, saying there has been “rewarding results” from the site, dating back to 2nd century BC.

Rs 40 lakh released
Referring to opposition from some sections to the transfer of the official overseeing the excavation process, Sharma said the Centre has released Rs 40 lakh to ensure that the excavation work “does not face any problem” and another official, hailing from Tamil Nadu, had been appointed in his place. “It is not a matter of individuals, it is a matter of institution. I am the minister today and I may not be the minister tomorrow. But that does not mean that the government or the ministry’s work will stop,” he said.

Sharma said, “I just want to put an end to all queries and confusion by saying that this excavation is important to our ministry, Archaeological Survey of India and the Government of India,” he said.
Sharma said the excavation had been planned for five years and that two years have already passed.

Hindutva discomfort
The Opposition parties have accused the central government of attempting to derail the excavations at Keezhadi “since Hindutva groups are uncomfortable with its findings”.

They claimed the excavations have shown that an advanced and secular Tamil civilisation — independent of the Hindu tradition — may have existed in the South during the Sangam era.

Denying the charges, Sharma said, “There has been very rewarding results of this excavation. We have got reports that there was a civilisation and culture over here, in these areas, even in 2nd century BC. So that’s a matter of pride for all of us.”
DH News Service

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