Centre plans to tweak no-build zone around monuments

Culture Ministry amendment to give ASI more teeth against encroachment

February 06, 2022 07:05 pm | Updated 07:06 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Photo used for representation purpose only.

Photo used for representation purpose only.

The 100-metre prohibited area for construction activity around Centrally-protected monuments could be replaced with site-specific limits to be decided by an expert committee, as the Union Culture Ministry was working on amendments to the relevant Act, officials said.

The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (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. However, according to Ministry officials as well as a recent Parliamentary Standing Committee report, there was no specific reason behind the 100 metre and 300 metre limits.

The report of the Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture on February 3 noted that the panel had taken “serious notice of the observation made by one of the experts that the 2010 amendment was brought about without any inputs from the Archaeological Survey of India”. The report added that the Ministry was working on “a much-needed amendment” of the AMASR Act.

A senior official of the Culture Ministry said 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 official said.

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, the official said. This would be similar to the enforcement powers under the Indian Forest Act, the official said.

The proposed amendment was likely to be sent for Cabinet’s approval soon for introduction in the second half of the Budget session of Parliament in March, the official said.

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