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India: Amendment to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 2010 - Press Statement by SAHMAT

30 June

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SAHMAT
Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust
29 Ferozshah Road,New Delhi-110001
Email: sahmat8[at]yahoo.com
Tel-23381276/23070787

30.6.2017

We have received with great dismay the recent news report that the Union Cabinet has approved amendment to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 2010 and that it has been decided to allow centrally funded projects to be set up in the prohibited area of the nationally protected monuments.

The act that was passed in 2010 has the stated objective ’to preserve, conserve, protect and maintain all ancient monuments and archaeological sites and remains declared of national importance, and their surrounding areas up to a distance of 300 Mtrs ( or more as may be specified in certain cases) in all directions’ The act replaced the ordinance, AMASR(Amendment and Validation) Ordinance promulgated by the President of India on 23 January 2010. The rationale for preservation of the monuments and sites of national importance is brought out very appropriately by John Ruskin and quoted in the committee report that formed the basis of the 2010 amendment ‘it is no question of expediency or feeling whether we shall preserve the buildings of past time or not. We have no right whatever to touch them. They are not ours. They belong to those who built them, partly to all the generations of mankind who follow us’. Constitution of India, in seventh Schedule declares built heritage as a significant public good.

If the amendment is given effect, new construction will take place in the immediate vicinity of protected properties of National importance ,i.e. ‘prohibited areas’, that is, within hundred metres of their delineated boundaries. Historic structures and archaeological remains are considered to be the most susceptible to heavy vibrations, chemical effects or mechanical stresses in this zone. In most sites, un excavated structural remains that open up avenues of further research also fall within these prohibited zones. Construction activity of any nature will inflict irreversible damage to the monument as well as to the prospect of future study and understanding of the historic context of the site.

We the signatories seek indulgence of the Central government and demand that the amendment as above may not be pursued . We also appeal to the parliamentarians belonging to various political parties to show their continued resolve to preserve and protect the monuments and sites of national importance. These are significant part of the soft power of India as also collective universal cultural assets and physical memories of our glorious past.

Signed;

  • M Saleem Beg, former director General Tourism and Member National Monuments Authority(NMA).
  • Meera Das, former member NMA
  • Bharat Bhushan, former member, NMA
  • Shalini Mahajan, former Member, NMA
  • Pukhraj Maroo, IAS, rtd and forme rmember, NMA
  • Romila Thapar, Historian
  • K. M. Shrimali, rtd Professor, D.U.
  • AGK Menon, Conservation Professional
  • Ram Rahman, Photographer, Designer
  • M. K. Raina, Theatre & Cinema Personality
  • Geeta Kapur, Art Historian
  • Irfan Habib, Historian
  • Sucheta Mahajan , Historian
  • Nadeem Rezavi, Historian
  • Shireen Moosvi, Historian
  • Mridula Mukherjee, Historian
  • Raj Rewal, Architect
  • Parul Kiri Roy,Assistant Professor, Architecture, SPA
  • Anuradha Chaturvedi ,Associate Professor ,Department of Architectural Conservation , SPA
  • Priyaleen Singh, Professor, SPA
  • Anisha Shekhar Mukherjee ,SPA
  • Vishal Dhar, Architect
  • Kanishka Prasad, Architect
  • Vertika Chaturvedi, Architect
  • Dr. Aruna Ramani Grover, Architect-Planner, Noida
  • Amar Farooqui, Historian
  • P K Shukla, Historian
  • Sohail Hashmi, Historian and Heritage Expert
  • D. N. Jha, Historian
  • Bhairabi Prasad Sahu, Historian
  • Ranjit Hoskote, Art Historian and Critic
  • Soumya Sahai , Historian
  • Ishrat Alam, Historian
  • Narayani Gupta, former member of Delhi Urban Art Commission and Heritage Conservation Committee of Delhi
  • Vikramjit Roop Rai, Founder ,Youth for Heritage Foundation
  • O P JAIN, Sanskriti
  • Ratish Nanda, Agha Khan Trust
  • Suneet Mohindru,Principal,ORACLES Landscape Design, Planning & Conservation
  • Vishwa Mohan Jha, Histotian
  • Vikramjit Singh Rooprai, Founder, Youth for Heritage Foundation
  • Nikhil Kumar, Communications professional
  • Tazeen Hussain
  • Vivan Sundaram, Artist
  • Parthiv Shah, Photographer Designer
  • Monalisha Choudhury
  • Shubham Acharya
  • Chavvi Malik
  • Prabhat Patnaik, Emeritus Professor JNU
  • Ira Bhaskar, Professor, JNU
  • Kavita Singh,Professor, School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU
  • Mishty Varma, Journalist and public affairs specialist
  • Zartab Haider Jafri, Managing Director-Maksus Mimer Energy Solutions India Pvt. Ltd
  • Seher Agarwala, Columbia University
  • Arjun Dev, Former professor NCERT
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