What are the recently proposed amendments to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 1958? Do you think that the proposed "public purpose" in these amendments could be a flawed notion of the government? Critically discuss.
India is endowed with rich cultural heritage monuments which form a unique and thus immensely valuable resource. AMASR Act and its parent Act of 1958 have their roots in Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904 which regarded the preservation of Ancient Monuments as highly important. The recently approved amendments will have sweeping consequences.
- Amendment to allow construction within the protected areas i.e. 100 metres of the earmarked boundaries of monuments of national importance.
- Amendment will thus clear the way for only certain constructions which are confined to public works and are deemed essential for public welfare.
- These will have a drastic effect on the historical monuments which are technically more prone to heavy vibrations, chemical effects and also many types of mechanical stresses which emanate from the protected zones. The Taj Mahal is evidently showing effects of yellowing due to heavy industry in the vicinity.
- The pretexts of innovation, sustainability and accountability stated by the government are completely ambiguous and lack technical research and consultations with specialists.
- Public works are usually very large infrastructure projects and their approval in the vicinity of protected monuments will be a clear violation of Article 49 of the Constitution which delineates the state to take appropriate measures to ensure the protection of monuments and sites of national importance.
- It will give a wrong message to the world about the priorities of the government of India to push development at the cost of heritage.
India in the past few decades has shown significant growth in the field of conservation of our prestigious heritage. Indian government should build on this knowledge which has sensitivities for interdisciplinary processes and integrate the same into developmental considerations. Any kind of development which seeks to undermine the importance of such national heritage will be catastrophic. Conservation and preservation of heritage sites thus should be considered as a priority to human need and development as they are truly precious and irreplaceable.
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