Once the provisions in State mining law and that of Ancient Monuments and Archaeology Sites and Remains Act, 1966, are rationalised, mining will not be possible close to sites where inscriptions are found, School Education Minister Thangam Thennarasu said on Thursday.

(The State Ancient Monuments Act, which is in line with a Central law of 1958, prescribes that mining cannot be done up to 300 m of a site where a monument has been found. The mining law relaxes this and makes it 50 m. Many District Collectors, who are responsible for the grant of mining leases, take into consideration the mining law. The government lost a recent case in the High Court because of this discrepancy.)

Replying to a special call attention motion, Mr. Thennarasu said his department was working with the Higher Education Minister, who was in-charge of mining, for a solution to ensure that the Tamil Brahmi inscriptions were protected. A committee chaired by Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudy was examining the issue. It was yet to finalise its recommendations.

Mr. Thennarasu said the issue was also raised by Congress president Sonia Gandhi with Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and that the need to protect the inscriptions was being taken seriously at the highest level. The government was of the view that the entire area where an inscription was found should be declared a protected area.

D. Ravikumar (VCK), who raised the issue, warned that the Tamil Brahmi inscriptions were the only proof that Tamil was a classical language. Every single site of the inscriptions was being run over by quarries. Unless the government acted quickly, there was no way to save the inscriptions.

All the main sites of the inscriptions – Keezhlevalavu, Tiruvadavur, Kazhugumalai, Melakuilkudi, Muthupatti and Kongarpuliyankulam – are almost congruent with the quarries, he said.