Recently, Dr P J Cherian told a prominent media outlet that after he left Kerala Council of Historical Research (KCHR), “a group of like-minded academicians” approached him and together they formed a non-profit educational trust — PAMA Institute for the Advancement of Transdisciplinary Archaeological Sciences — to continue the work. “PAMA was formed in 2018 and in 2020 we applied for a licence to excavate the sites. We were given the approval and we carried out excavation works which dragged due to pandemic,” said Cherian. The team applied for approval yet again in 2021 and were granted the same by ASI” (Road to History: Kerala’s Pattanam excavations resume in The New Indian Express October 5, 2021).
The minutes of the 45th Executive Committee Agenda of the KCHR on February 3, 2020, specifically clarified on the contrary of Cherian’s statement in The New Indian Express (October 5, 2021). The minutes clearly stated that the KCHR received a letter of intimation from Prof P J Cherian, Director of the PAMA (December 28, 2019) informing them that the ASI has granted license to PAMA to excavate Pattanam and Mathilakam. The letter informs, according to the KCHR, that in Pattanam, they intend to undertake excavations at three plots under the ownership of KCHR. The communication includes the copy of license granted to Cherian, according to the minutes, which is signed by Prof P Sanal Mohan, Director of KCHR.
In The New Indian Express, Cherian states that in 2020 PAMA applied to ASI for a license to excavate the sites, which was duly approved. In his letter to KCHR dated December 28, 2019, Cherian states that the ASI has granted license to PAMA to excavate Pattanam and Mathilakam in 2019. Both are contradictory.
In the minutes of the 46th Executive Council Meeting dated June 23, 2020, it was intimated from the Higher Education Department ( Lr.No. K2/44/2020 Hedn dtdt 06-05-2020) that other organizations should not be in charge of Pattanam excavations and KCHR should conduct excavations directly at Pattanam. The KCHR clearly specified in the executive committee not to grant NOC to PAMA for excavations in the land owned by KCHR at Pattanam as notified by the government. The Executive Council also decided not to provided financial and other assistance to PAMA for excavations at Pattanam and Mathilakam as requested by them. The Council also decided not to appoint Cherian as consultant for preparation of a Wheeler kind of report. The KCHR is cautious not to jump into Pattanam trenches and get soiled as happened in the past.
It is hiding these facts, recently the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in its order (No T – 17011/ 41/2019- EE ) issued on September 3, 2021 by M Nambirajan, Joint Director General (Exploration and Excavation), left out the name PAMA, an NGO in Kerala. On the order, Nambirajan has cleverly left out PAMA’s name and instead put the name Institute for the Advancement of Transdisciplinary Archaeological Sciences to help Cherian secure an easy court verdict, once he approaches the court against the ASI order.
Once the license of PAMA to excavate Pattanam terminated on September 30 and PAMA again applying for a fresh license for Pattanam, the ASI is in a trauma. It stands isolated and exposed for deceiving the Cultural Ministry and India.