Sivaganga: Union Minister Mahesh Sharma on Friday denied there were plans to stop excavation at Keezhadi in this district, saying there has been "rewarding results" from the site, dating back to 2nd Century BC.
Referring to opposition from some sections to the transfer of an official overseeing the excavation process, Sharma, Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism, said it was a routine exercise.
"I just want to put end to all queries and confusion by saying that this excavation is important to our ministry, Archaeological Survey of India and the government of India," he said.
Sharma was speaking after a visit to the site at Keezhadi, a hamlet where the excavation work has revealed the existence of an urban civilisation in the 2nd Century BC.
Addressing reporters along with his colleague Nirmala Sitharaman and state BJP chief Tamilisai Sounderrajan, Sharma said the excavation had been planned for five years and that two years had already passed.
"There has been very rewarding results of this excavation. We have got reports that there was civilisation and culture over here, in these areas, even in 2nd century BC. So thats a matter of pride for all of us," he said.
The Ministers' visit to the site comes in the backdrop of reports that the excavation had been stalled.
DMK Working President M K Stalin had alleged the Central Advisory Board of Archaeology had reportedly stalled the excavation at the site.
He had written to Sharma in January this year, seeking continuation of excavation and necessary funds for it.
Sharma said the excavation had to be done in a time-bound manner and pointed out that the transfer of an official overseeing the process was a routine exercise.
Another official, hailing from Tamil Nadu, had been appointed in his place and he "definitely" will be completing the work, the Minister added.
He said Centre has released Rs 40 lakh to ensure that the excavation work "did not face any problem."
He assured the people of Tamil Nadu and officials that there will be no shortage of funds to complete the excavation.
"It is not a matter of individuals, it is a matter of institution. I am the minister today and I may not be the minister tomorrow. But that does not mean that government or ministry work will stop," he said.
The work completed in the last two years has been compiled in a book, Sharma said.
The excavation showed there is "evidence-based culture" in that area, he added.
Sharma and Sitharaman said the 'antique' items unearthed during the excavation will be exhibited in the state.
Sitharaman said herself, her cabinet colleague and MP from Tamil Nadu, Pon Radhakrishnan, and the BJP's state unit had taken up the matter with Sharma long back and wanted him to visit the site.
Earlier, some pro-Tamil activists protested against the transfer of the earlier official overseeing the excavation, and engaged in heated arguments with with local BJP supporters during the Ministers' visit.
The activists were detained, Police said.