The Hyderabad High Court on Tuesday asked the Andhra Pradesh government to submit a counter in relation to a 'treasure hunt', undertaking excavation at the historic Chennampalli Fort in Kurnool district.
The court was hearing a petition filed by one V Brahma Reddy, which asked the state government to 'stop the destruction and protect the fort'.
According to reports, the government’s counsel informed the court that unidentified persons had resorted to digging for treasure at the fort, following which authorities put an end to it, and the mining department took up the excavation works after permission from the District Collector.
The state also pointed out that it was not a notified site, that warranted it to be a protected monument.
In December last year, the Department of Mines and Geology decided to exit the operations, after workers at the site did not find any sign of precious stones or minerals. Instead, they found remains of an elephant tusk, horse and donkey bones.
The mining was carried out, despite strong protests by locals in surrounding villages. Due to this, a large number of police personnel had been deployed around the fort, to prevent any untoward incidents.
Speaking to media persons, Kurnool Collector S Satyanarayana dismissed reports that the excavation was being done illegally.
He also denied WhatsApp forwards doing the rounds, that gold and precious treasure had been found at the fort.
The entire excavation was being monitored by experts and being recorded by CCTV cameras, he said. Spanning 102 acres, the fort was also not a notified archaeological site, he added.
He also said that the skeletal remains of the animals were also of significant historic importance, and directed officials of the Department of Archaeology to examine them.
Meanwhile, the court hearing the case granted three weeks to the Andhra government to file a detailed report on the excavation work.