Revision of the Ancient Monuments Act is ruinous
- The planned revision to Section 20 of the ‘Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains’ Act is ruinous.
A new Bill
- Government has announced that a Bill will be introduced to modify the law dealing with ancient monuments.
- It will provide more power to the Archaeological Survey of India.
- ASI protects around 3,700 archaeological sites and ancient monuments.
- Progressive militarisation of state agencies are dismantling public institutions.
- Proposed changes
- Section 20 of Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act of 1958 prohibits construction within 100 metre radius of all ASI-protected monuments and regulates activities within another 300 meter radius.
- New Bill proposes to revise this section.
Effects of rezoning monuments
- Permitting construction work may weaken foundations of centuries-old edifices.
- Chances of inadvertent damage are also higher.
- Electric pole might hit a monument’s finial, leading it to fall to the ground.
- Many monuments in India are already threatened by anthropogenic forces.
- Domestic waste and greywater regularly seep into sixth-century sanctuary at Jogeshwari in Mumbai.
- Air and water pollution continue to turn white marble of Taj Mahal yellow and green, and so on.
- Earth around an archaeological site or ancient monument is important source of history.
- If construction machines disturb it, artifacts long buried in layers of soil may be broken and their contexts destroyed.
- This makes the task of undertaking new research more difficult.
Concerns around the new Bill
- It is unclear whether it will empower the ASI.
- Various laws and statutory bodies, such as National Monuments Authority are already in place to help the ASI to fulfill its mandate.
- Proposed amendment to AMASR may hasten ASI’s transformation into a body that exists only in name
- Efforts at preservation are required and not new laws with more teeth.
- Strengthening of ASI will safeguard and promote our heritage in the years to come.