Union ministry of health and family welfare has granted Rs 18 crore to National Institute of Siddha (NIS) in Tambaram for a 100-bed building. But they cannot begin construction due to a ban on expansion of the premises. The ban was imposed by the National Monuments Authority (NMA) after the 14.8-acre premier institute of Indian medicine was declared a protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in 2010 due to the presence of many megalithic burial sites, most of them around 3,000 years old. Under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Amendment Act, 2010, no construction or repair work of existing structures is allowed within 100 metres of a monument. This is a “prohibited area” while the area within 200 metres of the prohibited area is a ‘regulated area’ where repair or alteration can be done with NMA approval. But the institute badly needs to expand. Presently, 180 inpatients are crammed into the space designed for 150. “Because of the ban on expansion, we are unable to construct additional buildings to house the extra beds,” said NIS sources. Everyday on an average, 1,200 outpatients come to the institute. On Fridays, the number goes up to 1,800. Last year, the NIS sought NMA permission to construct new buildings on the ground that it was in public interest. Repeated meetings were held between the NMA board members and NIS officials in New Delhi. On March 5, a four-member NMA team came to the city, where during a meeting, they were told by NIS officials about the urgent need for expansion. A decision in the matter is pending. Separately, some ASI officials feel it would be difficult to get a nod from the NMA because it would violate the Act and also be in breach of a few Supreme Court orders clearly prohibiting any activity on, or within 100 metres of, a protected monument site. “Recently, the NMA gave its approval for work on the Chennai metro rail project near the Dr Ambedkar Law College, which houses a protected monument, because the actual work is being done beyond a 200-metre radius of the monument. In this case, the NIS campus is itself a protected monument,” said a senior official.
Source : The Times Of India