In a change of plans, the National Institute of Siddha (NIS) in Tambaram has decided to construct a new building for additional in-patients away from the existing building.
This move, as part of the Institute’s plan to expand its facilities, is aimed at getting the approval of the New Delhi-based National Monuments Authority (NMA) for the expansion works.
At present, there is a ban imposed by the NMA on renovation or repairs of the existing buildings of the Institute after the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 2010 declared the Institute, which is located on the remains of megalithic burials sites, as a protected monument.
Since then, the 14.8-acre premier institute of Indian medicine has been struggling to get NMA approval to expand its facilities.
At present, 180 in-patients are crammed into the space meant for 150. Further, every day, on an average, at least 1,500 out-patients visit the Institute.
Under the original proposal, the Institute had planned to construct a 100-bed building, from a grant of Rs. 18 crore funded by the Union ministry of health and family welfare, by expanding the existing structure. But, the NMA rejected the proposal citing that it was against the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Amendment Act, 2010.
Under the Act, no construction or repair work of existing structures is allowed within 100 metres of a monument. This is declared as a prohibited area, while the area within 200 metres of the prohibited area is a regulated area where repair or alteration can be carried out with NMA approval.
“We have sent a new proposal under which the construction of the new building for inpatients will be away from such restrictions within our premises,” said NIS sources.
However, sources in NMA said that it is difficult to grant permission for such constructions because such archaeological sites are spread all over the areas in suburbs, both in Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts.
“Distinction of such sites from habitation areas in these districts has not been done so far. So, it will be difficult for us to decide on the new proposal by the Institute,” said NMA sources.
At present, more than seventy per cent of the 163 notified areas (megalithic sites) in the state are in Kancheepuram district.
Some of the sites are at Kunrathur, Erumaiyur, Nandampakkam, Sirukalathur, Sikarayapuram, Kadaperi,Tiruneermalai, Ayyancheri, Kilambakkam and Nanmangalam, in Kancheepuram district. Pammathukulam, Pottur, Puzhal and Attanthangal in Tiruvallur district, as well as Fort St George and Muthialpet in Chennai, Old Town Wall in Tondiarpet and Sri Thiripureeswarar Temple in Madambakkam are also notified sites.