Environmentalists in Wayanad have welcomed the decision of the sSate government to adopt measures to conserve the neolithic petroglyphs on the walls of the Edakkal caves on Ambukuthi hills in the district.
The government recently constituted a nine-member committee consisting of experts in archaeology, history, geology, rock mechanics, and conservation to conduct a detailed study on the present state of the archaeological site and suggest measures for its conservation.
The government had taken control of the caves in 1986 after a series of agitations led by environmentalists in the district under the aegis of the Wayanad Prakruthi Samrakshana Samiti when rampant granite mining was posing a threat to the very existence of the historical monument.
“Now, the monument is under the control of the State Archaeology Department and tourism activities are being managed by the District Tourism Promotion Council. But, they were yet to adopt any measures to conserve the caves, formed on fragile rocks, and the rock carvings were still lacking protection from illegal constructions, encroachment, mining, felling of trees, and urbanisation”, N. Badusha, president of the organisation, said.
A few decades ago, there were hundreds of acres of revenue land on the premises of the caves, but now all the land, except for 20 cents around the caves, had been encroached upon and was owned by resort lobbies with the support of some Revenue Department officials, he said.
Huge constructions were also made on the hill after felling trees and bulldozing the hill slopes, he said. More than 12 landslips were reported on the hill slopes during the monsoon last year and hundreds of families were shifted to relief camps a few weeks ago after a huge crack developed on the eastern part of the hill slopes.
“We welcome the decision of the government to appoint a panel to study various threats being faced by the area, but the conservation of the entire hill area is the only possible step to protect the monument”, he said.
All the land deeds on the hill slopes granted after 1986 should be cancelled and the entire area should be handed over to the Archaeological Survey of India, he said.