Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act

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    In News 

    • The Union Culture Ministry is working on amendments to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act.

    About the Act

    • It is an Act to provide for the preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance, for the regulation of archaeological excavations and for the protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects.
    • It extends to the whole of India.
    • The AMASR Act, 1958, was amended in 2010 to declare the 100-metre radius of protected monuments as prohibited areas and the next 300-metre radius as regulated areas

    Parliamentary Standing Committee Recommendations and Proposals 

    • A Parliamentary Standing Committee has recommended easing the restrictions on construction near the Centrally protected monuments, going from the existing blanket ban on building within 100 metres of the site to a framework of “least possible restrictions”.
    • The committee found that there was no specific reasoning behind prohibiting all construction activity in the 100-metre radius of a monument and regulating it within 300 metres.
    • It does not seem logical to have restrictions on a uniform amount of area across the highly diverse types of monuments under the protection of the Central government,” the matter should be considered on a case-to-case basis.
    • There needs to be a mechanism for keeping a check on the construction activities in the vicinity of a historical monument but utmost care must be taken to ensure that doing so causes the least possible disruption in the lives of people who have had been living in harmony with the monuments since decades,” 
    • The panel also recommended a constitutional amendment to enable the Centre to enforce some protective provisions with regard to monuments and sites that are not under the Central or State governments’ protection. 
    • The proposed amendment would change Section 20A of the Act, which refers to the prohibited area, to rationalise the prohibited and regulated areas
      • Expert monument committees would decide the prohibited area around a particular monument, which could be as wide as 500 metres for some sites like the Taj Mahal.
    • The amendment would also enable the ASI to act against encroachment by holding the relevant authorities liable in case of illegal buildings at a protected site. 

    Other related steps were taken by government for protection  of Monuments

    • Adopt Heritage Project: 
      • It was launched in 2017 as a collaborative effort by the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), State/UTs Governments.
      • It envisages the development and maintenance of tourist amenities at heritage sites and makes them tourist-friendly.
    • HRIDAY Scheme:
      • The Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, launched the Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) scheme, with a focus on the holistic development of heritage cities.
        • The scheme aims to preserve and revitalise the soul of the heritage city to reflect the city’s unique character by encouraging an aesthetically appealing, accessible, informative & secured environment.
    • Archaeological Survey of India (ASI):
      • It is an attached office under the Department of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and Culture is the premier organization for the archaeological research and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation.
        • It regulates all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. It also regulates the Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.
    • Adarsh Smarak Scheme:
      • The Ministry of Culture has taken up the scheme to develop and maintain 100 monuments protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in the country.
      • The scheme was launched on 26th December 2014.
    •  Adopt a Heritage: ‘Apni Dharohar Apni Pehchaan’:
      • The Ministry of Tourism has launched the “Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan” project in 2017 on the occasion of World Tourism Day.
        • It is a collaborative effort by the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture, Archaeological Survey of India and State/ UTs Government for developing tourism amenities at heritage/ natural/ tourist sites spread across India for making them tourist-friendly, in a planned and phased manner. 
    • National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASHAD) Scheme:
      • Launched in 2015 
      • Focus on identifying and developing pilgrim sites across the country to promote religious tourism.
    • Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’:
      • Announced in  2015 on the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Patel. 
      • Aim: To enhance the bonding between the states and strengthen the unity and integrity of India

    What is “Ancient Monument” and “antiquity”?

    • Ancient Monument” means any structure, erection or monument, or any tumulus or place of interment, or any cave, rock-sculpture, inscription or monolith which is of historical, archaeological or artistic interest and which has been in existence for not less than 100 years and includes—
      • remains of an ancient monument,
      • site of an ancient monument,
      • such portion of land adjoining the site of an ancient monument as may be required for fencing or covering in or otherwise preserving such monument, and
      •  the means of access to, and convenient inspection of, an ancient monument.
    • “Antiquity” includes.—
      • any coin, sculpture, manuscript, epigraph, or other work of art of craftsmanship,
      • any article, object or thing detached from a building or cave,
      • any article, object or thing illustrative of science, art, crafts, literature, religion, customs, morals or politics in bygone ages,
      • any article, object or thing of historical interest, and
      • any article, object or thing declared by the Central Government, by notification in the Official Gazette to be an antiquity for the purposes of this Act, which has been in existence for not less than one hundred years.

    Source: TH