Revision of the Ancient Monuments Act is ruinous

Contact Counsellor

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.