ASI defends amendment to monuments act

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Additional Director General, B R Mani on Thursday described the recent amendment to ‘The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958,’ as a measure to prevent the country’s cultural heritage.

Acts of vandalism were  posing a threat to “to the very existence of our cultural and natural heritage,” he said at a function here to mark the 150th anniversary of the ASI’s Chennai Circle.

Mani was apparently referring to the recent amendments notified in the GOI Gazette, the ‘Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Framing of Heritage bye-Laws and Other Functions of the Competent Authority) Rules, 2011.

It has notified “competent authorities” to receive and process applications for “repairs, renovations, construction and reconstruction" in prohibited areas. The authority’s approval is a must before effecting any changes near such sites.Emphasising that the need of the hour was creating public awareness about the country’s cultural heritage and importance of preserving it, Mani said: “A recent amendment in the Act on this line was needed since the fast growth is taking a toll on the safety of our monuments and sites.”

Out of the 3,677 monuments and cultural treasures of exceptional value in 44 site museums across the country, Mani said 23 monuments of “outstanding universal value have been inscribed in the World Heritage list of UNESCO.”  

Mani said the journal ‘Ancient India,’ which had stopped its publication in 1973, has now been revived. Besides, another publication ‘Epigraphical India’ and certain excavation reports were also released. At the function here on Thursday, the ASI’s recently published report, ‘Salavankuppam Excavations’ done near Chennai by Satyabhama Badrinath, who heads the ASI Chennai Circle, was also released.

Inaugurating the celebrations here, Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosiah called for taking the country’s rich heritage and culture to the youth, adding that the recent excavations at Kondapur near Hyderabad have yielded a “large number of structures, coins and artifacts.”

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