Historic ship faces decade-long neglect

ALAPPUZHA: A decade ago, historians from Britain and across the country had spent days at Thyckal near Cherthala to study about a nearly 1000-year-old ship that was unearthed from a land here. However, the authorities are apparently least bothered about the land and the structure. The place now lies neglected and flooded with rainwater.

The ship was excavated from a private property of Kadakkarapally grama panchayat's ward 10, nearly 2kms away from the beach. The state government had then bought the 1-acre land where the ship was found, following which the it was handed over to the State archaeology department.

"The presence of the ship was first detected in 1994 by agricultural labourers, who were dredging the place for a canal. In 1999, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) granted license for conducting excavation at the site, which began in 2002 April. It confirmed the existence of a ship under the sand. Historians from Britain and many other parts of India had stayed here for over 20 days to conduct the study. But now, the place lies neglected," said grama panchayat president James Chunkuthara.

In 2007, the state government declared this spot as protected monument and said it would be converted into a historical museum. Later, the archaeology department took over the protection of this place. "We lodged many memoranda with the state government for preserving this. However, no action has been taken," he said.

"The government had made many promises after the structure was excavated from here. But now they are not keen in preserving the site," alleged Mahidaran, a dairy farmer of Thyckal.

Meanwhile, G Prem Kumar, director of archaeology department said that steps to preserve the site would be initiated once the monsoon ends. "We will visit the place soon and a meeting will be convened in this regard," he said.

"Our studies from 2002 have found that the ship is nearly 1000-years-old. Though the department tried to conduct more studies to trace its history, they could not be completed. However, we will conduct more studies," Prem Kumar added.