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Parliamentary Committee’s Report on Protected Monuments

Context:

A Parliamentary Committee report tabled during the recent special session aims to prune the list of protected monuments in India.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Reviewing the List of Centrally Protected Monuments (CPMs)
  2. Other Major Recommendations of the Committee
  3. Central Authorities Involved in Regulating Monuments

Reviewing the List of Centrally Protected Monuments (CPMs)

Background:

  • The 359th report on the functioning of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was prepared by the department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism & Culture.
  • The committee noted that among the 3,691 Centrally Protected Monuments (CPMs), many are considered “minor” monuments with no significant national importance.
Committee’s Recommendations:
  • The committee recommended the need to “rationalize and categorize” the list of CPMs based on their architectural and heritage value, as well as their overall significance.
  • It pointed out instances where protected monuments, such as the graves of colonial-era soldiers or officials, may not hold substantial heritage value in the present context.
  • The report highlighted that some minor monuments receive the same level of protection as iconic sites like the Red Fort or the Taj Mahal.
  • Consequently, the committee suggested the rationalization of the CPM list in India based on national significance.
Removal of Monuments from the Protected List:
  • The list of Protected Monuments is governed by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules, 1959 (AMASR Act).
  • This Act safeguards monuments and sites that are over 100 years old, encompassing various structures and objects of historical significance, including temples, cemeteries, inscriptions, forts, and more.
  • To remove specific monuments from the CPM list, an amendment to the AMASR Act must be passed in Parliament.

Other Major Recommendations of the Committee

ASI’s Functioning:
  • The committee raised concerns about the overall functioning of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), particularly regarding administration, security, restoration work, and the general upkeep of heritage sites.
  • It noted that to date, approximately 531 monuments, roughly 14.4% of all Centrally Protected Monuments (CPMs), have been encroached upon. However, encroachments have been removed from only nine monuments since 2015.
  • The committee recommended that the ASI should support families affected by encroachment removal by helping them transition to alternative livelihoods.
  • It advocated the adoption of advanced technologies such as LiDAR, ground-penetrating radar, and 3D scanning to enhance the accuracy and efficiency of excavation work.
Bifurcation of ASI:
  • The report suggested dividing the ASI based on cerebral and managerial functions.
  • The ASI would handle core mandates like exploration, excavation, and conservation.
  • The India Heritage Development Corporation (IHDC) would manage revenue-related aspects, such as ticket collection and auctions.
Restrictions on Monuments:
  • Currently, the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Rules, 1959 (AMASR Act), stipulate a 100-meter prohibited area and a 300-meter regulated area around all ASI-protected monuments.
  • These restrictions prohibit and regulate various activities, including mining and construction, in the designated areas around protected monuments.
  • The committee found that these restrictions often inconvenience the public, especially when entire villages are located within a 300-meter radius of a monument, making it challenging for residents to carry out repairs on their houses.

Central Authorities Involved in Regulating Monuments

National Monuments Authority (NMA):
  • The National Monuments Authority is a statutory body established under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010.
Functions of NMA:
  • NMA is responsible for making recommendations to the Central Government regarding the grading and classification of protected monuments and areas declared as of national importance.
  • It oversees the functioning of Competent Authorities.
  • NMA assesses the impact of large-scale development projects, including those related to the public and projects essential to the public, proposed in regulated areas. It then makes recommendations to the competent authority regarding these projects.
  • NMA also recommends actions to the competent authority for granting permission for certain activities.
Difference between NMA & ASI:
  • The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is another statutory body established under the AMASR Act, 1958.
  • ASI is primarily responsible for archaeological research and the conservation and preservation of cultural monuments in India. It conducts archaeological surveys, explorations, and excavations.
  • In contrast, NMA’s primary duty is to protect and preserve monuments and sites. It does not conduct archaeological surveys or excavations.
  • Applications for construction-related work in prohibited and regulated areas are submitted to NMA, not ASI.
  • NMA regulates the AMASR Act, 2010, while ASI regulates both the AMASR Act, 1958, and the Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.

-Source: Indian Express


June 2024
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