Laws for ancient monuments in India : Article

Laws for ancient monuments in India.

Author: Snigdha Panigrahi

The monument means a world of memories, a world of deeds, a world of tears, and a world of glories. By the subtle chemistry that no man knows, all the blood that was shed by our brethren, all the lives that were devoted, all he grief that was felt, at last crystallized itself into granite, rendering immortal the great truth for which they died, and it stands there to-day.
– James Abram Garfield.

India has diverse cultural and ancient monuments spread across the length and breadth of the country. These have a very special importance and the wealth and power our country. The tourism industry is flourishing due to these monuments. Their preservation and protection from damage and destruction of any kind is the prime objective. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) describes ancient monument as “Ancient Monument means any structure, erection or monument, or any tumulus or place of interment, or any cave, rock-sculpture, inscription or monolith which is of historical, archaeological or artistic interest and which has been in existence for not less than 100 years”. Therefore, several piece of legislation have been enacted. India is a signatory to the World heritage Convention of UNESCO where Article 4 provides, Each State Party to this Convention recognizes that the duty of ensuring the identification, protection, conservation, presentation and transmission to future generations of the cultural and natural heritage  i. e those sites which can be considered for inscription on the World Heritage List. Article 49 of the Constitution of India provides, “Protection of monuments and places and objects of national importance It shall be the obligation of the State to protect every monument or place or object of artistic or historic interests, declared by or under law made by Parliament to be of national importance, from spoliation, disfigurement, destruction, removal, disposal or export, as the case may be” Article 51A(g) in The Constitution Of India, provides, to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures” The Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904 was enacted during the British raj under the tenure of Lord Curzon. It was enacted to prevent extensive excavation at certain place. It also provides for protection of the monuments and acquisition of the antiquities and monuments of historical importance. Article 253 in The Constitution Of India provides Legislation for giving effect to international agreements Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provisions of this Chapter, Parliament has power to make any law for the whole or any part of the territory of India for implementing any treaty, agreement or convention with any other country or countries or any decision made at any international conference, association or other body”. The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (or AMASR Act) is an act of parliament of the government of India that provides for the preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance, for the regulation of archaeological excavations and for the protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects. It was passed in 1958. The Archaeological Survey of India functions under the provisions of this act [1] the Parliament has approved of the following amendments in Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites Remains (Amendment) Bill, 2017-

To make way for certain constructions limited strictly to public works and projects essential to public within the prohibited area, the following amendments have been approved:
i) Insertion of a new definition of “public works” in section 2 of the Act.
ii) Amendment to section 20A of the Act so as to allow any Department or Office of the Central Government to carry out public works in the prohibited area after obtaining permission from the Central Government.
iii) Insertion of a new clause (ea) to section 20-I of the principal Act [2]

The Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972 is enacted to regulate the export trade in antiquities and art treasures, to prevent smuggling of and fraudulent dealings in antiquities. Indian Treasure Trove Act, 1878 deals with treasures found in India. Prevention of Damage of Public Property Act, 1984 also protects these monuments. India is known worldwide for its rich heritage inherited by our ancestors. Every heritage speaks of a different beautiful story of the past and thus makes the nation unique. The industries, vandalism, terrorism, pollution, land acquisition, agricultural activities, lack of civic sense, construction or sewages in and around the heritage is posing threat. It is our duty to protect them and pass on the legacy to the future generation with pride. As Teddy Roosevelt has rightly called conservation “a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of ensuring the safety and continuance of the nation.”