Context: The draft Geo-heritage Sites and Geo-relics (Preservation and Maintenance) Bill, 2022, while deemed necessary by several researchers, vests powers entirely in the Geological Survey of India (GSI), a 170-year-old organisation says experts.
About Geological Survey of India:
- The Geological Survey of India (GSI) is a scientific agency.
- It is one of the oldest of such organisations in the world and the second oldest survey in India after Survey of India (founded in 1767).
- GSI, headquartered at Kolkata, has six Regional offices located at Lucknow, Jaipur, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Shillong and Kolkata.
- Presently, Geological Survey of India is an attached office to the Ministry of Mines.
- Until 1852, Geological Survey primarily remained focused on exploration for coal, mainly for powering steam transport, oil reserves, and ore deposits.
- Then Sir Thomas Oldham broadened the ambit of the scope of functioning of the Geological Survey of India to map the rock types, geological structures and relative ages of different rock types.
- In 19th and early 20th century GSI made important contributions to Seismology by its studies and detailed reports on numerous Indian earthquakes.
- In 2017 GSI began pilot project, with the first ever aerial survey of mineral stocks by GSI, to map the mineral stocks up to a depth of 20 km using specially-equipped aircraft.
Role of GSI:
- Conducting geological surveys and studies of India.
- Prime provider of basic earth science information to government, industry and general public
- Official participant in steel, coal, metals, cement, power industries and international geoscientific forums.
Restructuring of GSI:
- The GSI was restructured into 5 Missions on the basis of the Report of a High-level Committee chaired by Mr S. Vijay Kumar:
- Baseline Surveys
- Mineral resource Assessments
- Multi-disciplinary Geosciences
- Training and Capacity Building
About Geo-heritage Sites and Geo-relics:
- The Geological Survey of India (GSI) declares geo-heritage sites/ national geological monuments for protection and maintenance.
- The draft bill defines Geoheritage sites as sites containing:
- geo-relics and phenomena,
- stratigraphic type sections,
- geological structures and geomorphic landforms including caves, natural rock-sculptures of national and international interest; and
- includes such portion of land adjoining the site.
- A Geo-relic is defined as any relic or material of a geological significance or interest like sediments, rocks, minerals, meteorite or fossils.
- The GSI will have the power to acquire geo-relics for its preservation and maintenance.
- The 32 geo-heritage sites spread across 13 states include:
- the Volcanogenic bedded Barytes of Mangampeta in Cuddapah district of Andhra Pradesh,
- the Akal Fossil Wood Park in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan etc.
Key provisions of the proposed bill:
- The Draft Geo-heritage Sites and Geo-relics (Preservation and Maintenance) Bill, 2022 vests powers entirely in the Geological Survey of India (GSI).
- The Bill give it the power to:
- declare sites as having ‘geo-heritage’ value,
- take possession of relics (fossils, rocks) that rest in private hands,
- prohibit construction 100 metres around such a site,
- penalise with fines up to ₹5 lakh and possibly imprisonment for vandalism, defacement, and violations of directives of a site by the Director General of GSI.
Declaration of geoheritage sites:
- It would authorise the Central Government to declare a geoheritage site to be of national importance.
- This would be under the provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (RFCTLARR Act).
- Through a public notification in the Official Gazette, the government would spell out what areas were to be acquired by it.
- Provision is made for compensation to the owner or occupier of land who incurs loss or damage from the land due to the exercise of any power under this Act.
- The market value of any property will be ascertained in accordance with the principles set out in the RFCTLARR Act.
- The Bill imposes a prohibition on construction, reconstruction, repair or renovation of any building within the geoheritage site area or utilisation of such area in any other manner.
- Exception: construction for preservation and maintenance of geoheritage site or any public work essential to the public.
- There is a penalty of imprisonment which may extend to six months or fine which may extend to Rs.5 lakh, or both.
- In the case of a continuing contravention, additional fine of upto Rs.50,000 for every day of continuing contravention may be imposed.
Source: The Hindu
Previous Year Questions
Q.1) With reference to India, consider the following statements:
- Monazite is a source of rare earths.
- Monazite contains thorium.
- Monazite occurs naturally in the entire Indian coastal sands in India.
- In India, Government bodies only can process or export monazite.
Which of the statements given above are correct? (2022)
- 1, 2 and 3 only
- 1, 2 and 4 only
- 3 and 4 only
- 1, 2, 3 and 4
Q.2) Consider the following minerals:
In India, which of the above is/are officially designated as major minerals? (2020)
- 1 and 2 only
- 4 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 2, 3 and 4 only