Karwar: In order to stop encroachment of and damage to heritage sites, the amended Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act has enhanced the penal provisions. For persons causing damage to places of archaeological importance, the maximum jail term has been raised from three months to two years and fine from Rs.5,000 to Rs.1 lakh, said in-charge Deputy Commissioner of Uttar Kannada K.H. Narasimhamurthy.

Addressing a seminar here on Monday, he said awareness should be created among the people on the need to preserve and protect places of archaeological importance. Laws to protect the places of archaeological importance were implemented in 1958, 1959, 1992 and 2010 but the public are ignorant about it. Only if awareness is created, further damage and encroachment of sites of archaeological importance can be stopped, he said.

Mr. Narasimhamurthy said 34 temples in Uttar Kannada district have been identified as heritage sites. Local people should cooperate with the authorities and help in implementation of the law by way of informing the police or the concerned officials about any threat to identified sites.

S.S. Nayak, retired conservator from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), also spoke on the occasion.

B.A. Anagadi, senior advocate, said heritage sites play an important role in development of tourism. Mining activities should be banned around such places. According to the amended Act, areas around the monument have been delineated as prohibited zones within 100 metres and regulated zones within a further 200 metres. Advocate P.S. Udupikar, Assistant Conservator of Forests (Uttar Kannada) B.A. Ranganath and Assistant Conservator of Forests (Haveri) K. S Subramanya were present.