Context: The Janardana Temple in Kerala, the Haveli of Agah Khan in Agra and Gonpa complex in Ladakh are among the 14 ancient sites which have been declared protected by the Archaeological Survey of India over the last three years.
- The list of these monuments and sites has been declared protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 was shared by Culture Minister in the Rajya Sabha.
- The other monuments and sites in the List Includes
- The temple complex of Navratnagarh in Jharkhand’s Gumla district.
- The group of monuments in Bolangir, Odisha.
- Vishnu Temple in Pithorgarh, Uttarakhand.
- Trilochannath Temple in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir.
- Udhampur are the sites which have been declared protected.
- The Baori and surrounding archaeological remains in Neemrana Rajasthan.
- Archaeological remains in Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh.
- The archaeological sites and remains of Ashwamedh Yagna.
- Village Virbhadra in Dehradun
- Rangdum Monastery in Kargil, Ladakh.
- Hathi Khana’ in Agra.
- Also, the government has provided ₹15,622 lakhs over the last three years as grant to Zonal Cultural Committees to strengthen the micro-culture in the country.
- Out of which, ₹5,881.46 lakh has been allotted in the year 2021-22.
About Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (AMASR), 1958:
- The Act was introduced in 1958 for safeguarding the cultural heritage of the country.
- The main objective of the act is to protect ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance.
- The act also regulates the archaeological excavations and the protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects.
- The Act prohibits construction in ‘prohibited areas’, an area of 100 meters around protected monuments.
- The central government can extend the prohibited area beyond 100 meters.
- The Archaeological Survey of India functions under the provisions of the act.
About Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and National Monuments Authority (NMA):
Archaeological Survey of India
- It is a premier organization under the Ministry of Culture, for the archaeological research and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation.
- It regulates all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
- It also regulates the Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.
- It was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham– the first Director-General of ASI.
- Alexander Cunningham is also known as the “Father of Indian Archaeology”.
National Monuments Authority
- National Monuments Authority (NMA) under the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India has been setup as per provisions of The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains AMASR (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010 which was enacted in March, 2010.
- Several functions have been assigned to the NMA for the protection and preservation of monuments and sites through management of the prohibited and regulated area around the centrally protected monuments.
- The Act provides for NMA to be constituted with a Chairperson and up to 5 Whole Time and 5 Part Time Members each and a Member Secretary.
- DG ASI is an ex officio Member.
About Zonal Cultural Centres:
- The Zonal Cultural Centres (ZCCs) were set up in the mid-80s to develop the cultures of various regions and also to set up mechanisms for preservation and promotion of various elements of India’s rich cultural heritage as autonomous bodies.
- The ZCCs were required to concentrate on the folk arts, dance and music.
- The mandate behind setting up the ZCCs was to bind the nation culturally while retaining the individuality of the regions that comprise them.
- The Seven Zonal Cultural Centres are-
- North Zone Cultural Centre (NZCC), Patiala.
- Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre (EZCC), Kolkata.
- West Zone Cultural Centre (WZCC), Udaipur.
- North Central Zone Cultural Centre (NCZCC), Prayagraj.
- North East Zone Cultural Centre (NEZCC), Dimapur.
- South Central Zone Cultural Centre (SCZCC), Nagpur.
- South Zone Cultural Centre (SZCC), Thanjavur.
Significance of AMASR Act:
- When a monument is declared protected under the AMASR Act then the maintenance of the monument is taken over by the Archaeological Survey of India.
- Construction activities in and around the monument or site are regulated and no construction is permitted without prior permission of concerned authorities.
- The area extending to 200 meters around the monument in all directions is called a regulated area.
- As per the AMSAR (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010 construction is prohibited within a 100-meter periphery of a protected area.
Issues associated with heritage conservation in India:
- Lack of a concrete policy on archaeological exploration and excavation: Recently a CAG report categorically noted that there was no national policy on archaeological exploration and excavation which seems to be true for antiquities as well.
- Lacks required resources and crunch of funds for ASI:
- The ASI has estimated about 58 lakh plus antiquities all over India, but there is no database or inventory in its possession.
- The budget of ASI, the primary institutional guardian of monuments is reduced by 200 crores in 2021-22 whose total budget stood at about ₹ 1200 crores.
- Also the budget for exploration and excavations is less than 1 per cent of total budget which was supposed to be 5% as informed to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
- Lack of synergy between the different conservation agencies
- The National Culture Fund, which allows individuals and corporate groups to fund conservation, has utilized only 14 percent of its funds because of the lack of coordination with the ASI.
- The National Monuments Authority who implements heritage by-laws and site plans for each monument has notified only 31 monuments and about 210 are in finalization state which is a fraction of the 3,693 monuments on the list of Centrally Protected Monuments.
- Faulty government policies: The Union government is pushing to amend the AMASAR act which will drastically reduce the prohibited and regulatory area around monuments.
- This will minimize the security net around monuments which would endanger them.
Suggestive measures and way forward:
- There is a need to create infrastructure such as databases or inventory of protected sites, CCTV cameras installation, proper lighting etc. to provide a fillip to heritage site conservation.
- The ASI needs an overhaul in its functioning in line with the modern heritage conservation techniques and it should come up with more stringent regulations, criteria etc.
- There should be a quick reboot to the conservation methodology of ASI.
Thus, Strengthening conservation institutions through enhancing their financial and human resources rather than amending the laws which will weaken the heritage conservation framework of the country is need of the hour.
Source: The Hindu
Previous Year Question
Q.1) Consider the following pairs:
Site of Ashoka’s major rock edicts Location in the State of
- Dhauli Odisha
- Erragudi Andhra Pradesh
- Jaugada Madhya Pradesh
- Kalsi Karnataka
How many pairs given above are correctly matched? (2022)
- Only one pair
- Only two pairs
- Only three pairs
- All four pairs