Draft Geo-Heritage sites and Geo-Relics Bill
According to the Geological Survey of India, a Geo-heritage site is a place that provides insights into the evolution of the earth. Also, the place should be culturally significant. The Mawmluh Cave of Meghalaya was the first geo-heritage site of India. The Ministry of Mines recently notified a bill on geo-heritage sites of India. The bill also has features of Geo-relics. Geo-relic means rock or sediment or mineral or meteorite.
Key Features of the Bill
- Definition of Geo-heritage site: The sites with landforms, structures, caves, and rock sculptures with geo-relic or geo-heritage phenomena. This includes the land adjoining the site as well.
- The geo-heritage sites in the country are threatened.
- The bill gives full power to the central government to declare a site as the geo – heritage site
- No construction, repair, or renovation is allowed within the geo-heritage area
- Fines shall be imposed for removing or destructing the site. Offenders shall be fined RS 5 lakh and six months of imprisonment
Concerns raised against the bill
The bill gives enormous powers to the GSI. For instance, the GSI gets the power to acquire any material such as minerals, sediments, fossils or meteorites. Also, there are land acquisition issues. Local communities may raise voices against including the sites under protected zones.