Madras High Court
Rajashree vs Union Of India on 3 June, 2015




Dated: 03.06.2015


The Honourable Mr.Justice T.S.SIVAGNANAM

Writ  Petition No.12794  of 2011
Kudiyil House, HMT P.O.,
Kalamassery, Kerala  683 104. 			... Petitioner 

1.Union of India,
Through Secretary,
Ministry of Mine,
FDA Bhavan, ITO Kotla Road,
New Delhi 110002.

2.State of Tamil Nadu
Through the Secretary,
Forest Department,
St. Fort Road, Chennai.

3.The Deputy  Director
Geological Survey of India,
Chennai Division, Chennai.

4.The District Collector,
Collector Office, Ariyalur District,
Tamil Nadu					      ... Respondents 

	Petition filed under Article 226  of the Constitution of India praying for the issue of a writ of Certiorarified Mandamus, calling for the records of fourth respondent in connection to the Kolakkanatham site and quash the same and direct the  first and third respondents to take necessary steps to declare Kolakkanatham fossil site as Paleontological  heritage site.

		For Petitioner	:::  Mrs.P.Uma

		For Respondents 	:::  Mr.Su.Srinivasan
			     Assistant Solicitor General for R1 and R.3

				Government Pleader for R.4

				   Special Government Pleader for R.2


(The Order of the Court was made by The Hon'ble The Chief Justice) The petitioner seeks to file the Public Interest Litigation on behalf of his minor child who was the student of Class-X and he is studying Paleontology as an amateur with technical support of experts from Geological Survey of India, Centre for Earth Science Studies, Cochin University of Science and Technology and Academicians from various Universities. The object is stated to be to protect and conserve endangered the Kolakkanatham fossil site from encroachment and destruction and to declare Kolakkanatham fossil site as Paleontological world heritage site, being the only one fossil site of its kind in the world.

2. The research work being done is set out in paragraph-5 of the petition as under:

I respectfully submit that at present he has been concentrated in studies and research on paleoenvironment in Cauvery basin, South India. The Cauvery basin extends along the eastern coast of India, bounded by 08-12 degree north latitude, 78-80 east longitude. This basin was formed as a result of Gondwanaland fragmentation during drifting of Indian  Srilankan landmass system away from Antartica/Australia plate in late Jurassic/early Cretaceous period. The abundant mineral resources and fossil remnants in this places are ample proof for the transgressions and regressions of sea and the topographical changes occurred in Cauvery basins in early and late cretaceous period (before 65 million years ago). The present lanscape, sand deposited in canyons, sedimentary rocks, abundant resources of fossils and the minerals in the earth provide us the picture and proof of the existence of live being and their extinction due to the interference of various factors. Eminent personalities from various parts of India as well as from other countries visits this sites and collect fossils for study and research purposes.

3. The petitioner alleges that on a recent visit to the fossil site, it was found that the second respondent was planting trees and dumping waste materials, and such activities are alleged to have the prospect of causing loss of the fossil site. Thus, the endeavour to convert the land into forest area would change the landscape and permit outsiders to be included in the fossil site. The Geological Survey of India, Chennai Division, is alleged to be a mute spectator to this.

4. In the typed set of papers filed along with the writ petition, the petitioner has produced a copy of the Biostratigraphy published by the Geological Survey of India for their Training Institute, from which we find that there has been new formation units for the Uttattur and Trichinopoly groups and they are Arogyapuram, Dalmiapuram and Karai formations for the Uttattur Group, Kulakkalnattam and Anaipadi formations for the Trichinopoly Group.

5.The counter affidavit of the second respondent has been filed now belatedly only this month, after four years. The Government of India has not even cared to do that. It is the say of the second respondent that from 1983 to 1987, the area was taken up in a phased manner by various schemes by planting trees of different specious. No plantations have been made after 1997. It is being categorically averred that there is no objection to the petitioner's plea to preserve and conserve the fossil site.

6. There is also no further proposal for planting trees in these areas.

7. We are indeed surprised at the silence of the Geological Survey of India which has not cared to place its stand on record nor has apparently taken any steps to preserve the fossil area. In view of the unrebutted averments made in the writ petition, as also the stand of the second respondent, it is obvious that necessary steps are required to be taken for preservation of the fossil site, in view of its importance as set out in the writ petition. The grounds in the writ petition set out its importance as under:

According to geology Kolakkanatham is located between 78 56' 22 - 78 57' 06 E; 11 07' 22 - 11 22' 23 N in exposures along the Karai  Kulakkanattam road. The Lithology, contacts and environment shows the rocks of this member are massive, yellowish brown ferruginous sandstones and contain abundant admixtures of silt and clay. Localised concentration of shell fragments, bivalves and gastropods (resembling a shell bank typical of subtidal to intertidal coastal lagoons) and ammonites are common. BANERJI et al. (1996) interpreted this unit as having been deposited under a high-energy wave regime.

A significant feature of this member is that the sandstone contains abundant wood fragments (in which a high concentration of bivalve boring and oyster encrustation are observed), which vary in size between 5 cm length and 2 cm diameter to 18 m length and 3.5 m diameter, at places found to be fit enough to term them as woody sandstone. Cross bedding, channel courses (1 m deep and several meters across), planar bedding and feeding traces are also common in this member. The depositional surface was strongly bioturbated and riddled roots (BANDEL, 2000). The rocks are well cemented. In the Karai-Kulakkanattam traverse, an angular erosional unconformity was found to separate this member from the underlying Karai formation. BANERJI (1972) and BANERJI et al. (1996) recognised this contact as a transgressive onlap. The fossils available in this site are wood fragments encrusted with oysters, Pinna, Thalassinoides, Diplocraterion, Ophiomorpha and others molluscs. Age of this landscape ranges from Middle-Late Turonian.

The above excerpts taken from the published work named Lithostratigraphy, depositional history and sea level changes of the Cauvery Basin, Southern India by MUTHUVAIRVASAMY RAMKUMAR, DORIS STUBEN & ZSOLT BERNER publshed in ANNALES GEOLOGIQUES DE LA PENINSULE BALKANIQUE, 65 (2002-2003), 1-27, BELGRADE, December 2004 gives clear picture about the kolakkanatham area and how it important to the study of the history of mankind.

Kolakkanatham area is scientifically known to be formed as the result of transgression (withdrawal of sea) happened in the late cretaceous i.e., around 65 million years ago. This area needed to be protected as a national paleontological monument like the Yellow stone National Park and Grand Canyon in USA. In the world most of all countries giving more attention to the paleontological sites but in our country especially in Tamilnadu fossil sites were destroying without any proportionate advantage. The subject matter in this writ, Kolakkanatham transgressive area is one and only site in the world which tells the story of geological events happened before the origin of human being. So the protection of this site is not only the duty of respondents but it is the asset of our nation and a world heritage site. The petitioner humbly submits that, the act of social forestry is not for protecting this area.

The protection and preservation of paleontological site are essential for understanding history of life in earth, it provides materials for scientific records for research to present and future generation, educational opportunities, and to develop tourism which ensure social economical benefit and it shall promote the Indian heritage. This remains of 65 million years old paletological site shall provided new information about distinctive group of ancient living beings and their existence.

8. We, thus, consider it appropriate to direct the respondents to take appropriate steps, more specifically the third respondent for examining the importance of the fossil site and to inform the Court whether it has examined the issue of declaring the Kolakkanatham fossil site as Paleontological heritage site, with reasons recorded for the same. Necessary exercise be undertaken within a maximum period of two months from today.

9. The writ petition accordingly stands disposed of with the aforesaid directions. No costs.

10. Compliance report be filed within two months.

11. List for compliance on 07.08.2015.

Copy of the order be issued to the Assistant Solicitor General for third respondent.

Index:Yes/No				      (S.K.K.,CJ.)         (T.S.S., J)
Internet:Yes.No				                   03.06.2015

Copy to:

1. The Secretary, Union of India,
Ministry of Mine,
FDA Bhavan, ITO Kotla Road,
New Delhi 110002.

2. The Secretary, State of Tamil Nadu,
Forest Department, St. Fort Road, Chennai.

3.The Deputy  Director, Geological Survey of India,
Chennai Division, Chennai.

4.The District Collector,
Collector Office, Ariyalur District,
Tamil Nadu.					     

The Hon'ble The Chief Justice
					  T.S.Sivagnanam, J


W.P.No.12794  of 2011