The Amendment to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act pushes the case for heritage conservation with vigour

Heritage conservation and development haven't exactly been on good terms with each other, especially in the context of city life. Growing demand of the urban population for a comfortable life, coupled with the apathy and nonchalance of the city-dwellers, have often come into conflict with this sphere of our cultural heritage.

But Jawahar Sircar, Secretary, Ministry of Culture, is hopeful of changing the troubled equation with the “momentous” Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act (AMASR) 2010. According to Sircar, the new amendment tilts the balance in favour of heritage and urban planning. “I call the new Act momentous because it is very serious about the implementation part: through enhanced punishment for violators (up to two years' imprisonment); punishment for Government officials who connive (up to three years' imprisonment); setting up of National Monuments Authority; setting up of local level Competent Authorities; framing monument-specific Heritage bye laws, and so on.”

The original AMASR Act was passed in 1958 and has been amended after five decades. Providing for a National Monuments Authority (NMA), which will have a full-time chairperson, five full-time and five part-time members, having experience in the fields of archaeology, town and country planning, architecture, heritage and conservation, is one of the highlights of the amended Act. A set of competent authorities by the Central Government for each protected monument and prohibited area will also be formed which shall prepare heritage bye-laws on the basis of detailed site plans prepared by ASI.