Home TRENDING Jindal Land Lease Poses Threat to Vizag Archaelogical Sites: EAS Sarma

Jindal Land Lease Poses Threat to Vizag Archaelogical Sites: EAS Sarma

Thotlakonda Archaeological site
(Dr EAS Sarma)
I have come across on the internet a lease agreement dated 6-8-2016 (copy enclosed) signed by Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) with the Jindal Group for setting up a waste processing thermal power project in Old S.No 314 of Kapulauppada village near Visakhapatnam.
Apparently, GVMC had never held any public consultation prior to signing such an agreement with the Jindal Group nor GVMC had ever cared to exercise due diligence about the nature of the land in S.No 314 and considered the fact that the entire S.No 314 (Old) comprising 3148 acres had been notified under GO Rt No 627 (Education) dated 2-5-1978 as a prohibited archaeological site.
Clearly, GVMC ought not to have signed such an agreement with a private company for setting up structures that would interfere with the highly valuable archaeological evidence.
As pointed out, as early as in 1978, the entire extent of S.No 314 (Old) came under a notification issued under AP Ancient and Historical Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1960 (Andhra Pradesh Act VII of 1960) with the boundaries in different directions unambiguously indicated. I have enclosed a copy of that GO Rt for your ready reference.
Regarding the details of Old S.No 314, the same may be seen in the District Collector’s proceedings No. 2686/2014/E2/ dt 17-9-2016.
Dr EAS Sarma, former Secretary GOI
In one case that had come up before Hon’ble AP High court in WP No. 173/2016, Hon’ble High Court had pronounced an order dated 29-11-2016 reaffirming the above position, that is, no construction activity could be taken up in Old S.No 314 of Kapulauppada village as it was notified under the above-cited archaeology Act. I have enclosed a copy of the relevant court order for your ready reference.
In other words, ab initio, the lease agreement signed by GVMC with the Jindal Group is legally void.

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The rationale of the notification issued vide GO Rt No 627 is that the entire extent of S.No 314 (old) is potentially rich in archaeological evidence, irrespective of the extent explored and excavated by the concerned department, and therefore it should be considered as a protected site. Under the Rules notified under the corresponding Central Act, measured from the rim of the area notified under GO Rt No 627, another 300 metres of buffer area should also be considered as “prohibited” (100 metres), “protected” (100 metres) and “regulated” (100 metres) which should not be disturbed.
As it is to be expected, in the specific case of S.No 314 (old) of Kapulauppada village, an archaeology researcher of repute, Lars Fogelin had extensively carried out non-invasive exploration and found around 120 micro-sites of archaeological evidence all around the existing Thotlakonda site excavated by the State Archaeology Dept. This reinforces the need for preserving the land in the entire extent of S.No 314.
By setting up a structure for a thermal power plant in S.No 314, the State authorities would, therefore, be effectively destroying potential archaeological evidence to the detriment of the public interest.
I, therefore, request you to issue necessary orders to GVMC to revoke the lease agreement forthwith.
I further request you to order an investigation into the circumstances under which such a patently illegal lease agreement was signed by GVMC.
If I fail to receive a satisfactory response from you, I will be constrained to seek judicial intervention in this matter.
Lease Agreement (pdf)
GO RT 627 (pdf)
GO Rt No 627
(Contents of the letter Dr Sarma, former GOI secretary, wrote to J Shyamalrao, Principal Secretary, Municipal Administration, Andhra Pradesh)