New Delhi: A bill allowing construction within 100 metres of ancient and protected monuments was passed in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill, 2017 amends a provision in the existing Act prohibiting construction in "prohibited areas" - defined as 100 metres around the monument - even if it is for public purposes.
The proposed amendment allows civil construction for pubic purpose in the "prohibited areas" but after official permission and under certain conditions.
The Bill also holds that "public works", which includes construction of any infrastructure financed and carried out by the Central government necessary for public safety and security, will only be allowed after considering the archaeological, visual and heritage impact on the protected monument.
"The work on the projects will only be allowed in case when it benefits the country and not an individual or any private organisation. The works in prohibited areas will be allowed when there were no other options," Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma told the members.
The Minister also said that there have been many cases where norms have been violated by the state governments and illegal construction within the "prohibited area" was encouraged like the flyover near Emperor Akbar's tomb in Sikandra, construction of pool in Kolhapur, Akkana Madana in Vijaywada, construction at Sarnath and others.
He said 24 monuments are "missing" due to encroachments, while 321 are already marred by illegal encroachment and currently the Archaeological Survey of India has 3,686 monuments under its observation.
"Demolition notices has been served for 12 such tombs to clear off the encroachment... and attempts are being made to protect all such heritage properties which are under encroachment," the minister added.