The residents first got to know of the ASI notification in August 2010 from a Pallavaram Municipality resolution. The resolution, drawing from a circular from the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, which in turned was based on the ASI notification, said “Megalithic cairns and Cists showing clear structural postures” had been found in the area.
Under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendments and Validation) Act, 2010, areas within 100 metres of the site were ‘restricted’ and those within 101 and 300 metres were ‘regulated’. While any construction activity was prohibited in ‘restricted’ areas, a No Objection Certificate was necessary in ‘regulated’ areas.
Anxious residents, who were at a loss to understand why these sites were important, staged protests, organised meetings and appealed to both the ASI and Pallavaram Municipality to indicate if their property was safe but received no clarity. They even visited New Delhi to appeal to Members of Parliament and ASI officials. In early 2011, the then Chief Minister K. Karunanidhi also wrote to the Prime Minister seeking his intervention.
A few months ago, an ASI official finally attended a grievance meet and said there would be no threat to property that had come up before the August 2010 notification. Residents however felt that this assurance was vague.