In a move that will be bring relief to residents of Pallavaram, the Madras High Court, in an interim order, permitted the competent authorities to receive applications for construction, renovation or modification of buildings in two survey numbers in the area.

These areas had been declared as protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act. Any such work in these areas has been frozen since 2010. The court however said the applications need not be processed till June 4,

Justice K. Venkataraman passed the interim order on a writ petition by the Federation of Civic and Welfare Associations of Pallavaram Municipality. He ordered notice.

The federation’s vice-president, V. Ramanujam said the petition had been filed to highlight the hardship faced by residents in and around the areas under Survey No.63 and 56 of Pallavaram. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had included 21.77 acres in survey no.63 and 36.15 acres in the other survey number as a protected area stating that “Megalithic Cairns and Cists showing clear structural postures” were available there. Thus, any kind of repair or construction work in 300 metres around the area of the two survey numbers had been frozen.

Nearly 5,000 houses and 8,000 were affected by this stricture.

Hence, the residents could not carry out any repair or renovation, water supply and sewerage works. Whenever an application was made either for construction, repair or renovation of existing buildings, the municipal and other authorities directed the applicants to approach the Central government or the competent authorities under the Act for permission or No Objection certificate.

Mr. Ramanujam said that under the Act, only the Central government had the power to declare an ancient monument to be one of national importance.

In the absence of a Central notification, the question of protected monument or protected area would not arise. The notification declaring the “Megalithic Cairns and Cists showing clear structural postures” as a protected monument had not been issued. Under such circumstances, the proceedings of the ASI and CMDA declaring the area as a protected monument and thereby preventing any construction was arbitrary and illegal. The impugned action violated the Right to Property, he said.

Since late 2010, residents had gathered on various occasions to protest the restrictions on construction activity and had approached both the ASI and the State government.

Based on ASI communication, the areas were declared protected and any repair and reconstruction work prohibited

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