A bill, to allow the government to take up infrastructure projects within the prohibited areas around protected monuments, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 18, 2017, with the centre saying that development work was getting affected.
The prohibition of new construction within prohibited areas of a protected area or protected monument, is adversely affecting various public works and developmental projects of the central government, the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill’s ‘statement of objects and reasons’ said.
Amendments have been proposed in the legislation to the 1958 Act that prohibits carrying out any public work or project essential to the public, or other constructions, in any prohibited area around protected monuments. A ‘prohibited area’ means land in the 100-metre radius around a protected monument.
Currently, construction is not allowed in the prohibited areas, except for repair and renovation works. The government said the need was felt to amend the law to allow ‘construction works related to infrastructure, financed and carried out by any department or office of the central government, for public purposes, which is necessary for the safety or security of the public at large’.
Besides, such construction works would be taken up, when there is no possibility of any other viable alternative to such construction, beyond the limits of the prohibited area.
The ‘Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill, 2017’ also seeks to have a new definition of ‘public works’ under the Act. There are more than 3,600 monuments and sites that are centrally-protected under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India, which is responsible for their maintenance.