Traders observed a total bandh in
this town today protesting the Archaeological Survey of India move
to declare the Arunachaleswara temple here a monument of national
About 5,000 persons belonging to all
political parties and various service and non-governmental
organisations, led by R. Muthukumaraswamy, president of the
newly-formed Arunachaleswara Temple Protection Committee, took out a
procession from the Rajagopuram around the four mada streets.
They raised slogans condemning the ASI move.
On the instructions of the Union
Minister for Culture and Tourism, Jagmohan, and in exercise of the
powers conferred under Sub-section (i) of Section 4 of the Ancient
Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958, the
Department of Culture, on September 20, issued a preliminary
notification of its intention to declare the temple, an ancient
monument on an extent of 24.35 acres, a "monument of national
Any objection might be made within
two months (before November 20) by any person and it would be
considered by the ASI Director-General, the notification said.
Enquiries, however, revealed that if the objections received from
various organisations and individuals were not accepted by the
Centre, the next step would be issuing the final notification
declaring areas up to 300-metre radius of the protected monument
"prohibited and regulated" for purposes of mining operations and
constructions". The notification would totally prohibit any
mining or construction within the first 100-metre radius, while in
the 200-metre radius beyond, any such activity would be subject to
ASI approval of the plan.
Though the superintending
archaeologist of the ASI, Chennai circle, K.T.Narasimhan, explained
here on Tuesday that in the event of the ASI declaring the temple a
monument of national importance, it would not exercise any control
over hundial collections or interfere with rituals including daily
Poojas, the temple protection committee was not convinced.
Talking to this reporter, some of
the members said that contrary to the existing practice, the temple
authorities would be forced to seek ASI permission even for
conducting the Karthigai Deepam festival or performing a
They were not convinced either by
Mr.Jagmohan's explanation that the move contemplated was only a
"declaration as a monument of national importance" and not a