Megalithic burial site encroached

The protected Megalithic burial site at Hasmathpet is under encroachment, yet again. For the second time in less than a year, attempts are on to occupy the site by clearing the ancient graves.

Scores of graves, which are as old as 3,000 years, are being levelled with the help of bulldozers for the last three days. The graves encompassed by Megalithic circles have suffered extensive damage with the staff of the Department of Archaeology and Museums looking the other way.

With the help of a bulldozer some of the graves were removed on Saturday. Following an alert from the watchman, an official from the department visited the site and stopped the demolition.

The encroachers engaged another bulldozer and levelled the graves on Sunday and Monday. Yet the department officials did not lodge any written complaint. Only an oral complaint was made to the Alwal police and the latter did not take any steps to stop the encroachments.

P. Chenna Reddy, Director, Department of Archaeology and Museums, who was out of the station, has taken a serious note of the lapse on the part of the officials concerned and issued show cause notices to them.

In February too also attempts were made to build a church and a temple at the site. However, the plan was foiled with the intervention of the department.

The burials located in Survey No. 1 of Hasmathpet village in Balanagar Mandal are spread over 108 acres and two guntas. Of this, 28 acres and 27 guntas of land is a protected area. The Megalithic site at Hasmathpet which was first noticed by Dr. Walker, ranges in date between the second century B.C and second century A.D.

The problem arose when the department took up construction of a compound wall in 2002 to protect the entire site. However, the work had to be stopped as a contempt case was filed by the Railway cooperative housing society and other societies.

As per the updated Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act 2010, encroachments on the protected sites are punishable with imprisonment not exceeding two years or with fine of Rs. 1 lakh or with both.

The act clearly says that the municipal authorities have to insist on NOC from the department while sanctioning the building plan. However, in contravention of the rules some houses have come up on the protected site.

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