A Parliamentary Committee report tabled during the recent special session aims to prune the list of protected monuments in India.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Reviewing the List of Centrally Protected Monuments (CPMs)
- Other Major Recommendations of the Committee
- Central Authorities Involved in Regulating Monuments
Reviewing the List of Centrally Protected Monuments (CPMs)
- 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.
- 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
- 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