Centre plans to legalise antiquities trade to stop smuggling

Last Updated : 25 May 2015, 10:33 IST

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In an effort to stop smuggling of antiquities from India, the Centre has decided to amend the relevant act for making the country an "open market" for antiquities trade.

Union Culture Minister Mahesh Shrama said his ministry has proposed to the cabinet revising the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972, which he strongly feels would help stop smuggling antiquities from India for illegal trade abroad.

"We want this act to be revised. And we have proposed to the cabinet that the Antiquities Act be changed. Let in India, anything more than of 100 years of value comes under the antiquity act. Let India have an open market. Once we allow the trade of those antiquities in India this smuggling will stop," Sharma told PTI in an interview.

As per the Act, it shall not be lawful for any person, other than the central government or any authority or agency authorised by it, to export any antiquity or art treasure.

This apart, the government is also contemplating to bring in sweeping changes to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010 as it has created hurdles for constructions in the vicinity of a protected monument across the country.

Admitting that the stringent clauses in the act is also misused by a section of officers, the Minister said there is a huge pressure from Members of Parliament, besides the general public, to do away with these restrictions.

"Public representation has come tremendously after this 2010 restrictions put on constructions between 100 metres and 300 metres from any monument, where we cannot have any construction. But, this has been misused. Let me accept that this facility has been misused by our officers also. We are re-looking into this. The public pressure is so much on us and parliamentarians (as well) that this law needs to be amended."

The act, which was amended in 2010, states that no person can carry out any construction in prohibited areas that is falling within 100 metres of the protected monuments.

In case of constructions or renovation in areas marked as regulated areas, which extends up to 200 metres from the limits of prohibited areas, owners should apply to the competent authority for approval in this regard.

This leads to hassles, wherein several residents have to run from pillar to post for getting necessary prerequisite, facing hardship in the process.

Published 25 May 2015, 10:33 IST

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