New Delhi: A proposal to set up a watchdog for over 3,600 ASI-protected monuments in the country on Monday received the Union Cabinet`s approval.
The proposal to set up the National Monument Authority, a provision for which is provided in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act 2010, was brought before the Cabinet and was approved, official sources said.
The bill, which replaced an ordinance by the Government in January this year, is aimed at strengthening the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act
1958, and was passed in Parliament during the Budget session in April.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who also holds the charge of Culture Ministry, was said to have been keen on passing the Bill and establishing of the Authority.
The National Monument Authority, which will be headed by a Chairman and have five full-time and as many part-time members, will map all the 3,675 Centrally-protected
monuments and ensure strict enforcement of the Act.
The Authority, to be set up at a cost of Rs 100 crore, will have Union Cabinet Secretary as its ex-officio chairman and will regulate that no construction takes place in a minimum area of 200 metres in all directions of the protected site besides the 100 metre prohibited area.
The bill imposes stringent punishment on the violators of the Act`s provisions and stipulates that no construction takes place in a minimum area of 100 metres in
all directions of the protected monuments.
It says sites shall be declared prohibited for purposes of construction and no private or public construction in the prohibited area will be allowed except those undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
The Government has in Parliament admitted recently that there have been instances of protected monuments being encroached and the new Bill has provisions to check the