Neolithic petroglyphs crave for conservation

Neolithic age petroglyphs on the wall of Edakkal caves.

Neolithic age petroglyphs on the wall of Edakkal caves.  

Site of Neolithic petroglyphs suffers from illegal constructions

The Neolithic petroglyphs on the walls of Edakkal caves on the Ambukuthi hills in Wayanad district, a treasure trove for archaeologists, historians, and researchers, still await protection from illegal constructions, mining, and urbanisation.

The mushrooming of resorts on the hills by drastically altering the topography and rampant mining activities are the major threats being faced by the Edakkal caves.

As much as 5.5 acres of land around the caves is protected, and all types of construction activities are banned on 300 m around the premises. Though the State government had made the declaration five years ago , the land is yet to be handed over to the Archaeology Department after survey. The department had paid ₹1 lakh to the Revenue Department for the purpose four years ago.

Constructions activities have taken place near the caves in the past and such work can be stopped effectively only after the proposed survey, sources say.

As many as four resorts had been constructed flouting all norms in the ecologically fragile area at Ambukuthy Pathonpahtu and nearly six constructions were under way in the area after bulldozing the hills, says U.K. Preman, ward member, Nenmeni grama panchayat.

Two of the resorts were constructed on obtaining permissions to build jeep sheds, Mr. Preman said. Close to five landslips occurred in the area during the monsoon after the constructions, he added.

Neolithic petroglyphs crave for conservation

UNESCO directive

A workshop held at Sulthan Bathery on conserving Edakkal petroglyphs in 2013, as part of securing World Heritage Monument status by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) for the monument, had discussed potential threats to the rock carvings, including unrestricted construction and mining activities in the area and scientific measures to conserve the monument. Though the workshop handed over its recommendations to the department, no action had been taken, he said.

Though the department had appointed an officer to monitor day-to-day activities at the monument in 2009, the post has remained vacant for the past six years .

The first cave was closed to tourists last year after a huge stone collapsed into it, but the authorities concerned are yet to take any step to open it after conducting a study.

A few years ago, the government had banned all types of construction on the premises of the caves to conserve the Neolithic engravings. But construction of resorts and illegal quarrying using explosives have been going on without restraint, says P.K. Achuthan, convener, Ambukuthi Hill Conservation Committee. The activities are posing a serious threat to the rock shelters and hundreds of families residing on the hill slopes at Kuppakolly, Edakkal, Andikkavala, Vellachattam, Pattiyambam, and Govinda Moola, Mr. Achuthan said.

Two huge water tanks, with a capacity of more than 1,000 litres, are being set up on the hill for resorts. They pose a serious threat to the residents of a tribal settlement on the slopes of the hill, he added.


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Printable version | May 31, 2020 1:45:00 PM |

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