ASI to Delist Lost Monuments

ASI to Delist Lost Monuments

News: Recently, The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has made the decision to remove 18 centrally protected monuments from its list, deeming them lacking in national significance. These monuments were initially categorized as untraceable in a previous ASI list.

• The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has delisted 18 centrally protected monuments due to their perceived lack of national importance.
• These monuments were previously categorized as untraceable in an earlier ASI list.
• ASIs decision reflects a reassessment of the significance and value of these monuments.
• The removal indicates a shift in priorities regarding the preservation and protection of historical sites.
• ASIs ongoing efforts aim to prioritize the conservation of monuments with greater cultural and historical significance.

About Delisting of Monuments: 
Removal from ASIs Oversight:
o Delisted monuments will no longer fall under the conservation, protection, or maintenance purview of the ASI.
o They will effectively be excluded from the ASIs roster of centrally protected monuments.
Permitting Construction and Urban Development:
o The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (AMASR Act) prohibits construction-related activities in the vicinity of protected sites.
o Upon delisting, regular construction and urban development can proceed in the area without restrictions.
Erosion of Legal Safeguards:
o The AMASR Act, 1958 extends legal protection to monuments designated as nationally significant.
o Delisting removes this legal shield, potentially leaving monuments vulnerable to neglect or harm.
Delisting Procedure:
o Section 35 of the AMASR Act grants the Central Government authority to declare the cessation of national importance for any ancient monument or archaeological site via a notification in the Official Gazette.
o A gazette notification dated 8th March 2024 was issued to delist the 18 monuments, with a subsequent two-month period allotted for public objections or suggestions.
o Understanding ASIs Classification of Untraceable Monuments:
ASIs Definition of Untraceable Monuments:
o When ASI designates a monument as untraceable, it signifies that the monument cannot be physically located or identified.
Factors Contributing to Monument Loss:
o Urbanization, encroachments, and construction activities such as dams and reservoirs are key factors leading to the disappearance of monuments.
o Neglect over time also contributes to the deterioration and eventual loss of monuments.
Extent of Monument Disappearance:
o Some smaller or lesser-known monuments have deteriorated to the point where there is no remaining public memory of their existence.
Effectiveness of ASIs Preservation Efforts:
o Despite the mandate of the AMASR Act for ASI to regularly inspect and conserve protected monuments, the effectiveness of these efforts varies.
Significance of Declaring Monuments Untraceable:
o Declaring monuments as untraceable highlights the loss of valuable cultural heritage.
o It emphasizes the need for improved conservation efforts and better allocation of resources in the future.

Lost Monuments:
o Ministry of Culture reported to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture that 50 out of India’s 3,693 centrally protected monuments were missing.
o Some lost monuments were victims of rapid urbanization, submerged due to reservoirs/dams, and remained untraceable.
Inadequate Security:
o Only 248 out of over 3,600 protected monuments had security guards posted.
o Government could provide only 2,578 security personnel at 248 locations, falling short of the total requirement of 7,000 due to budgetary constraints.
o Parliamentary Committee expressed dismay over insufficient personnel for monument protection, highlighting budgetary limitations as a significant challenge.
Findings by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India:
o CAG report revealed that at least 92 centrally protected monuments had gone missing, exposing inadequacies in monitoring and protection mechanisms.
Lack of Comprehensive Survey:
o Absence of a comprehensive physical survey of all monuments post-Independence has resulted in a lack of reliable information regarding the exact number of monuments under ASI protection.

About Archaeological survey of India (ASI):
• The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), operating under the Union Ministry of Culture, safeguards and maintains specific monuments and archaeological sites declared of national importance under The Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904 and The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (AMASR Act).
• ASIs responsibilities encompass surveys of antiquarian remains, exploration and excavation of archaeological sites, and conservation and maintenance of protected monuments.
• Established in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham, ASIs first Director-General, who is renowned as the Father of Indian Archaeology.
• Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (AMASR Act):
• Aims to preserve ancient monuments for future generations.
• Applicable to monuments over 100 years old in public or private ownership.
• Prohibits construction or alteration around ancient monuments without National Monuments Authority (NMA) approval.
• National Monuments Authority (NMA):
• Established in accordance with the AMASR Act, tasked with conserving and preserving monuments and sites, including banned/restricted areas around centrally designated monuments.
• Responsible for implementing the AMASR Act and granting permission for construction or developmental activity within protected and regulated areas.
• Protected Area and Regulated Area:
• Protected area constitutes a 100-metre radius around the monument.
• Regulated area extends up to 200 metres beyond the protected area.
• Current restrictions enforce a ban on construction within the 100-metre radius of protected monuments, with stringent regulations for permits in the additional 200-metre radius.

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