The Janardana Temple in Kerala, the Aga Khan Haveli in Agra, and the Gonpa complex in Ladakh are among the 14 ancient sites designated as protected by the Archaeological Survey of India in the last three years.
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The Most Important Points
- The list of these monuments and sites that have been declared protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, was shared in the Rajya Sabha by Culture Minister.
- Rangdum Monastery in Kargil, Ladakh, is one of the other monuments and sites on the list.
- Agra’s Hathi Khana.
- Kathua’s Trilochannath Temple in Jammu and Kashmir.
- The Navratnagarh temple complex in Jharkhand’s Gumla district.
- The monument complex in Bolangir, Odisha.
- The Pithorgarh Vishnu Temple in Uttarakhand.
- The Ashwamedh Yagna archaeological sites and ruins.
- Dehradun’s Virbhadra Village
- Udhampur are the sites that have been designated as protected.
- The Baori and its environs in Neemrana, Rajasthan.
- Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh, has archaeological remains.
- In addition, the government has provided 15,622 lakhs in grants to Zonal Cultural Committees over the last three years in order to strengthen the country’s micro-culture. A total of 5,881.46 lakh has been allotted for the fiscal year 2021-22.
How does AMASR Act protection affect a site?
- When a monument is declared protected under the AMASR Act, the Archaeological Survey of India assumes responsibility for its upkeep.
- Construction activities in and around the monument or site are strictly regulated, and no construction is permitted without the prior approval of the relevant authorities.
- A regulated area is defined as an area that extends 200 metres in all directions around the monument.
- Construction is prohibited within a 100-meter radius of a protected area, according to the AMSAR (Amendment and Validation) Act of 2010.
- The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958 (AMASR):
- The Act was enacted in 1958 to protect the country’s cultural heritage.
- The act’s main goal is to protect ancient and historical monuments, archaeological sites, and remains of national significance.
- The act also governs archaeological excavations and the preservation of sculptures, carvings, and other similar artefacts.
- The Act forbids construction in ‘prohibited areas,’ defined as a 100-meter radius around protected monuments.
- The central government has the authority to extend the prohibited zone beyond 100 metres.
- The Archaeological Survey of India operates in accordance with the provisions of the act.
National Monuments Administration (NMA):
- Established under the Ministry of Culture in accordance with the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010.
- The NMA has been assigned specific tasks for the conservation and preservation of monuments and sites, such as control of prohibited and restricted areas around centrally designated monuments.
ASI (Archaeological Survey of India):
- It is a premier organisation under the Ministry of Culture for archaeological research and the preservation of the nation’s cultural heritage.
- It governs all archaeological activities in the country in accordance with the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958.
- It also governs the 1972 Antiquities and Art Treasure Act.
- Alexander Cunningham, the first Director-General of ASI, founded it in 1861.
- Alexander Cunningham has been dubbed the “Father of Indian Archaeology.”
What exactly are Zonal Cultural Centers?
- The Zonal Cultural Centres (ZCCs) were established as autonomous bodies in the mid-1980s to develop the cultures of various regions as well as to establish mechanisms for the preservation and promotion of various elements of India’s rich cultural heritage.
- The ZCCs were required to focus on folk arts, dance, and music.
- The ZCCs were established with the goal of culturally uniting the nation while preserving the uniqueness of the regions that comprise them.
- The seven Zonal Cultural Centres are as follows: o Patiala’s North Zone Cultural Centre (NZCC); o Kolkata’s Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre (EZCC).
- Udaipur’s West Zone Cultural Centre (WZCC).
- Prayagraj’s North Central Zone Cultural Centre (NCZCC).
- Dimapur’s North East Zone Cultural Centre (NEZCC).
- Nagpur’s South Central Zone Cultural Centre (SCZCC).
- Thanjavur’s South Zone Cultural Centre (SZCC).
Heritage conservation issues in India
- The absence of a clear policy on archaeological exploration and excavation.
- A CAG report recently stated unequivocally that there was no national policy on archaeological exploration and excavation, which appears to be true for antiquities as well.
- ASI is facing a financial crisis and lacks the necessary resources.
- The ASI has estimated that there are approximately 58 lakh antiquities in India, but it does not have a database or inventory.
- The budget of the ASI, the primary institutional guardian of monuments, is reduced by 200 crores in 2021-22, from around 1200 crores.
- Furthermore, the budget for exploration and excavations is less than 1% of the total budget, which was supposed to be 5%, according to information provided to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
- A lack of collaboration among conservation organisations
- Due to a lack of coordination with the ASI, the National Culture Fund, which allows individuals and corporate groups to fund conservation, has only used 14 percent of its funds.
- The National Monuments Authority, which implements heritage by-laws and site plans for each monument, has notified only 31 monuments, with approximately 210 in finalisation, a fraction of the 3,693 monuments on the Centrally Protected Monuments list.
- Poor government policies
- The Union government is attempting to amend the AMASAR act, which would significantly reduce the prohibited and regulated area around monuments.
- This will reduce the security net around monuments, which would otherwise endanger them.
- Additionally, this may result in redundancy in heritage laws, permanently harming heritage.
The way forward
- Need to augment infrastructure o To provide a boost to heritage site conservation, infrastructure such as databases or inventories of protected sites, CCTV camera installation, proper lighting, and so on are required.
- The ASI’s operations should be overhauled to align with modern heritage conservation techniques, and it should establish more stringent regulations, criteria, and so on.
- ASI’s conservation methodology should be restarted quickly.
- Strengthen conservation institutions by increasing their financial and human resources rather than amending laws, which will weaken the country’s heritage conservation framework.