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Mining rampant at Tangasseri fort

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LOST HERITAGE: Mining activity under way to remove sand from the Tangasseri Fort area.
LOST HERITAGE: Mining activity under way to remove sand from the Tangasseri Fort area.

Ignatius Pereira

Construction being carried out in the vicinity of the fort

KOLLAM: Though the remains of Fort Thomas at Tangasseri in the city is a protected monument under the control of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), mining and construction are being wantonly carried out in the vicinity of the structure.

Construction has already taken its toll on the fort. Mining is in addition to that.

Such activities are going on within the periphery of the fort in spite of a warning notice put up on the site by the ASI. As per the notice, under Section 32 of the Ancient Monuments, Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules, 1959, mining and construction have been banned up to 100 metres and 200 metres beyond the protected site.

But the Tangasseri fort complex of the ASI has claim over only 5.7 cents of land. In fact, the fort wall is also the compound wall for at least two houses. Within the prescribed 300-metre periphery of the fort, there are at least 11 houses. The mining is for removing sand and levelling the fort area for private construction.

Available documents mention that the fort was constructed in 1519 secretly by the Portuguese after obtaining permission from the Rani of Kollam to construct a house. Built with laterite stone, it had five bastions and a moat. Later, during the 17th century, the fort came under the control of the Dutch. After that, the British took over it.

General secretary of the Kollam Residents Apex Council C. Amalolbhavan said that since the Tangasseri fort was a historical monument and one of the oldest European structures in India, the authorities concerned should be more serious in protecting whatever remained of the monument.

The structure was also one of the last remains that could vouch for the historical background of Kollam.

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