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In today's edition of our Current Affairs, we will discuss Disappearance of 50 ASI-protected monuments. The topic's relevance to the UPSC CSE syllabus is mentioned below.
For Prelims: Current events of national and international importance.
Centrally Protected Monuments, Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (AMASR Act), Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972, Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report.
For Mains: GS Paper I - Indian Culture - Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
About Centrally Protected Monuments, Disappearance of a monument, Physical Survey of Monuments, Removing Monuments from the Protected List.
Recently the Ministry of Culture has told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism, and Culture that out of 3693 centrally protected monuments in India, 50 of them have gone missing.
What is centrally protected monuments? Also, explain the process of deleting the untraceable monuments from the protected list. (150 words, 10 marks)
About Centrally Protected Monuments
- These are sites that are more than 100 years old, including temples, cemeteries, inscriptions, tombs, forts, palaces, step-wells, rock-cut caves, and even objects like cannons and mile pillars that may be of historical significance.
- To protect these sites the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (AMASR Act) regulates the preservation of monuments and archaeological sites of national importance.
- The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Culture, functions under this Act.
Also Read: UPSC: 75 Ramsar Sites in 75th Year of Independence
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI):
- The ASI was founded in 1861 by Alexander Cunningham when he realized the need for a permanent body to oversee archaeological excavations and conservation.
- The ASI, under the Ministry of Culture, is the premier organization for the archaeological research and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation.
- Maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance is the prime concern of the ASI.
- ASI regulated as per the provisions of the AMASR Act, 1958 and Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.
- For the maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance the entire country is divided into 37 Circles.
- ASI officials are supposed to regularly inspect the monuments to assess their condition.
- ASI officials can also file police complaints, issue show-cause notices for the removal of encroachments and communicate to the local administration the need for the demolition of encroachments.
Causes of Missing Monuments
Priority to other sectors
- After Independence, the government focused largely on sectors like health, education, and infrastructure.
- The scope of heritage was only limited to finding more monuments, instead of conservation. All this led to the disappearance of monuments.
- Other factors that caused great loss to the heritage sites include 14 monuments to urbanization, 12 to the construction of dams and reservoirs, and even encroachments also.
- In addition to these 24 monuments or sites are untraceable, which brings the number of missing monuments to 50.
- The budgetary constraints and shortage to physically man for big and small monuments is also a cause for this loss and for any future loss, if not addressed now.
Survey of Monuments
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- The ASI officials said that post-Independence the physical survey of all monuments has never been conducted.
- As per a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report in 2013, at least 92 centrally protected monuments across the country had gone missing.
- As per the recent report shared by ASI, “out of the 92 monuments declared as missing by the CAG, 42 have been identified due to efforts made by the ASI.”
Removing Monuments from the Protected List
News Source: The Indian Express:
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- The process of deletion requires denotification of the said monument under Section 35 of the AMASR Act, which happens to be a long-drawn process.
- It is because a missing monument cannot be automatically equated with the loss of its historical importance.
- Section 35 has the provision to issue notifications only for such Centrally Protected Monuments (CPMs) which, according to the central government, have ceased to be of national importance.
- It is recommended that the untraceable monuments may not be removed from the list, because once that is done, there would be no imperative to find them.
- It is also recommended that the missing monuments can be added to the list of Untraceable Monuments and if necessary, the AMASR Act be amended to include this terminology.