Says panel probing issue of quarrying affecting inscriptions

A committee headed by the Director, Geology and Mining, is investigating the issue of quarrying affecting stone inscriptions in caves near quarries, School Education Minister Thangam Thennarasu informed the Assembly on Friday.

He was responding to a question raised by D. Ravikumar (VCK). Quoting from The Hindu, Mr. Ravikumar said that Professor Asko Parpola, the Indologist from Finland, had stressed the need for the Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions to be protected. To a question on the inscriptions being threatened by quarrying near Madurai, he said (The Hindu, April 15): “The Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions are important monuments, which should be adequately protected. The possibility of new finds must also not be forgotten. In my own country, Finland, the government has been much concerned about the damage caused to scenery by sand quarrying and has passed restrictive laws.”

Mr. Thennarasu, who is also one of those in the State who can decipher the inscriptions, said that protecting the caves in which the inscriptions were discovered, has been a continuous process. Once the question of damage due to mining came up, a committee was set up in consultation with Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudy, who also handles the Mining Portfolio.

On matriculation schools

C.V. Shanmugham (AIADMK) charged that most matriculation schools were applying for CBSE affiliation en masse because of the decision of the government to introduce the equitable system of education. Mr. Thennarasu countered that the member's charge was not based on facts. So far, only two schools had approached his Ministry seeking approval to convert to CBSE stream from matriculation.

E.S.S. Raman (Congress) wanted to know how the State government proposed to implement the Centre's free and compulsory education for all children from ages 6 to 14. S. Gunasekaran (CPI) and Sathan Thirumalaikumar (MDMK) wanted the integration of welfare schools with the School Education Department to ensure better standards.

On the compulsory education, Mr. Thennarasu said that a State Advisory Committee and relevant bodies were to be set up. The model rules for the implementation had been framed and States would give their comments on these. The modalities of implementation would be decided after discussions with the Centre, he added. On the question of merger of welfare schools with those of the School Education Department, he said that the objective of setting up welfare schools for special groups of disadvantaged people would not be achieved if these were integrated with the department.

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