[Statement] SAHMAT dismayed over Cabinet’s approval to amendment to the AMASR Act 2010

The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (or AMASR Act) is an act of Parliament of India that provides for the preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance, for the regulation of archaeological excavations and for the protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects. Recently, the Union Cabinet approves amendments to the act that according to archaeologists shall be detrimental to historical structures and remains. Below is the statement from Safdar Hasmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT).

SAHMAT
Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust
29 Ferozshah Road,New Delhi-110001
Email: sahmat8@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;

  1. M Saleem Beg, former director General Tourism and Member National Monuments Authority (NMA).
  2. Meera Das, former member NMA
  3. Bharat Bhushan, former member, NMA
  4. Shalini Mahajan, former Member, NMA
  5. Pukhraj Maroo, IAS, rtd and forme rmember, NMA
  6. Padma awardee Mr SK Misra, former chairman INTACH.
  7. Rakesh Mathur, former President, ITC,Welcome Heritage Hotels,Co-Founder & Hon. Secretary, Ecotourism Society of India.
  8. Romila Thapar, Historian
  9. K. M. Shrimali, rtd Professor, D.U.
  10. AGK Menon, Conservation Professional
  11. Ram Rahman, Photographer, Designer
  12. M. K. Raina, Theatre & Cinema Personality
  13. Geeta Kapur, Art Historian
  14. Irfan Habib, Historian
  15. Sucheta Mahajan , Historian
  16. Nadeem Rezavi, Historian
  17. Shireen Moosvi, Historian
  18. Mridula Mukherjee, Historian
  19. Suvira Jaiswal, Historian
  20. K.L.Tuteja, Historian
  21. Nagendra Sharma, Historian
  22. Raj Rewal, Architect
  23. Parul Kiri Roy,Assistant Professor, Architecture, SPA
  24. Anuradha Chaturvedi ,Associate Professor ,Department of Architectural Conservation , SPA
  25. Priyaleen Singh, Professor, SPA
  26. Anisha Shekhar Mukherjee ,SPA
  27. Vishal Dhar, Architect
  28. Kanishka Prasad, Architect
  29. Vertika Chaturvedi, Architect
  30. Dr. Aruna Ramani Grover, Architect-Planner, Noida
  31. Amar Farooqui, Historian
  32. P K Shukla, Historian
  33. Sohail Hashmi, Historian and Heritage Expert
  34. D. N. Jha, Historian
  35. Bhairabi Prasad Sahu, Historian
  36. Ranjit Hoskote, Art Historian and Critic
  37. Soumya Sahai , Historian
  38. Ishrat Alam, Historian
  39. Narayani Gupta, former member of Delhi Urban Art Commission and Heritage Conservation Committee of Delhi
  40. Vikramjit Roop Rai, Founder ,Youth for Heritage Foundation
  41. Suneet Mohindru,Principal,ORACLES Landscape Design, Planning & Conservation
  42. Vishwa Mohan Jha, Histotian
  43. Vikramjit Singh Rooprai, Founder, Youth for Heritage Foundation
  44. Nikhil Kumar, Communications professional
  45. Tazeen Hussain
  46. Vivan Sundaram, Artist
  47. Parthiv Shah, Photographer Designer
  48. Monalisha Choudhury
  49. Shubham Acharya
  50. Chavvi Malik
  51. Prabhat Patnaik, Emeritus Professor JNU
  52. Ira Bhaskar, Professor, JNU
  53. Kavita Singh,Professor, School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU
  54. Mishty Varma, Journalist and public affairs specialist
  55. Zartab Haider Jafri, Managing Director-Maksus Mimer Energy Solutions India Pvt. Ltd
  56. Seher Agarwala, Columbia University
  57. Arjun Dev, Former professor NCERT
  58. Saili Malpani, Architect
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