Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Treasure hunt in Hyderabad: Archaeology department takes up scientific survey of school ground

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: With manual and mechanized digging in the last
three days failing to locate the tunnel suspected to contain a hidden
treasure, the State Archaeology Department has decided to use
state-of-the-art scientific equipment to take the excavation to its
logical conclusion.

It will press into service ground scanners, earth imagers, long-range
gold detectors, and gradiometers, as the situation demands, for
electromagnetic and acoustical feedback. For this, it has sought the
help of the National Mineral Development Corporation and the
Geological Survey of India. If the need arose, the Archaeology
Department will also approach the National Remote Sensing Centre of
the Indian Space Research Organisation for help.

“We are not going to leave the excavation mid way. We will utilise all
sorts of modern technology to verify the claim on the hidden treasure.
Saifabad and its surroundings is a treasure trove prone area. We have
earlier found tunnels with empty iron chests and almirahs, which
indicate the presence of treasure. The modern equipment will help us
to find out the tunnel and if it is there, whether the tunnel is
standalone or connected to similar structures excavated in the
vicinity,” Dr P Channa Reddy, director of Archaeology and Museums. He
is also the State Treasure Trove officer.

A team of officials from NMDC visited the site on Monday and would
visit again on Tuesday for a preliminary assessment. Excavation work
was stopped on Monday pending help from expert agencies. The
management of Vidyaranya School, where the alleged treasure trove is
hidden, took objection to the excavation work and demanded that it be
stopped. One of the school committee members pulled up Tourism and
Archaeology Minister Vatti Vasanth Kumar when he visited the site. The
school reopens on Tuesday after Sunday and Mahashivratri holiday.

The Archaeology Department took up the excavation work on Saturday
following a sworn affidavit by nine prominent citizens led by Mr DS Rama 
Raju, an executive in Coal India Limited, that some of them, besides a
mason, Mallesh, had entered the tunnel and saw an iron gate inside.
The department has sent a team to Mahbubnagar to bring some of the
masons, who allegedly saw the tunnel and the treasure inside. Mallesh
and the other masons were involved in a construction work at the site
a few months ago.

According to Mr Raju, the idea of a hidden treasure in the tunnel
gained credence, as there was a strong iron gate a few feet away from
the entrance. “In all the tunnels excavated in the vicinity there were
no iron gates. The fact that this tunnel has an iron gate shows that
something precious was kept behind it,” he said.

Different sites were dug up on three different days but the excavation
could not lead to the alleged tunnel. The modern equipment will help
find out, if there were something, the size, depth and position of
jewellery, gold and artifacts. It will also locate anomalies under the
ground including tunnels, graves or bunkers.

Vasanth Kumar told this correspondent that the excavation would
continue after receiving expert advice from NMDC and Archaeological
Survey of India. “Any treasure or mineral below the ground belongs to
the government. We will decide on the future course of action based on
the outcome of the excavation,” he added.

City police has been providing round the clock security cover at the
excavation site. Two police guards have been positioned at the spot
apart from patrolling teams and
back up.

Central Zone Deputy Commissioner of Police Mr Tarun Joshi said, "we
have received a
request from Department of Archaeology to provide security”.

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