The Narendra Modi-led Union Cabinet has now passed amendments to a law that protects ancient monuments in the country making it possible for constructions like highways, airports or other public constructions within 100 metres of sensitive and protected monuments.
The Hindustan Times reports that while earlier engineers had work their projects around this law, but now no such new amendment means that there would be no impediments, but it will have to be approved by the Centre.
It was earlier this year in January, that the Culture Ministry had proposed that construction be allowed within 100 metre radius of protected monuments, including UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The Indian Express had quoted a cabinet note as saying, "In certain cases, it has become very difficult or almost impossible to shift the project from the designated location because of space constraint or land ownership or due to appropriateness of that particular spot for the project."
Business Standard reported that a new definition of "public works" has been inserted in Section 2 of the The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958. Section 20A of the Act has been amended so that any department or office of the Central government can carry out public work in the prohibited area after getting permission from the Centre.
This amendment may potentially put several monuments across the country in danger, even though the said constructions will be limited to public works.
Chairman of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage Major General (retired) LK Gupta told The Hindustan Times, "A heritage impact assessment study must be conducted before allowing a project near a protected monument. The study must ensure no harm will come to the monument."
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