Severe penalties for defacing monuments

The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act 2010, has totally banned construction activities in the prohibited and regulated area of the national historical buildings or sites.

The new legislation has come as a bolt from the blue for encroachers of  ancient buildings and real estate businessmen encroaching upon the land around the historical sites.

The amended Act defines 100 metres radius area from the limit of the national monument as prohibited and 200 metres radius area as regulated area. This limit, the law says, may be extended if the National Monument Authority feels the need for it. The act completely bans construction activities in the prohibited area, even if the purpose is related to community service.

Though the Act allows construction activities in the regulated area, it makes it mandatory to take permission from the competent authority. The authority can grant permission for construction, reconstruction, repair and renovation in the regulated area only after the National Monument Authority approves it.

The new legislation has enhanced punishment from three months to two years imprisonment and the fine from Rs 5,000 to Rs one lakh for destroying, altering or misusing  the protected monument. Even construction activity in the regulated area without prior permission from the Competent Authority attracts two years jail term and a fine of Rs one lakh.

The law makes officials of the Central Government responsible for implementing the Act effectively. The law prescribes three years imprisonment or fine or both if officials concerned fail to check construction activities.

The punishment has been enhanced to ensure that it acts as a deterrent and none dares to indulge in unauthorised and illegal activity as per the Act. Provision for severe punishment has also been made for officers of the Central Government found indulging in any act which is illegal or unauthorised as per the Act.

"With the enactment of the new law, the protection of heritage sites, especially in North Karnataka will become easy now," said Dr Venkateshaiah, Regional Director, the Archaeological Survey of India.

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