ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Preservation vs 'Development'

India is yet to find a way to give archaeology its due.

Recently, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) came up with a set of draft amendments to rules that have thus far guided development activities around heritage sites. The rules were first framed by the ASI in 1992 to counter the growing threats to heritage sites from urbanisation. These rules are now seen by those groups anxious to pursue “development activity” in the towns and cities as obsolete and in need of urgent revision. The draft, now before the ministry of culture, ostensibly seeks to find a better balance between conservation and development, but there is always a risk that a relaxation of bureaucratic rules could go to the other extreme and that the new rules will become a licence to take up activities that will endanger monuments.

Construction activities are currently not allowed within a 100 metre radius of protected monuments; development, moreover, is regulated a further 200 metre around the monuments. The draft amendments propose more flexible “development controls”, i e, the distance to which construction activity is permissible will be increased or reduced depending on the monument’s importance, location and condition of the prevailing site. The new rules also incorporate provisions for salvaging archaeological structures. Besides, the ASI’s legal privileges would be enhanced to enable it to deal with attempts to destroy and deface monuments.

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