- Currently, India has 3695 MNI under Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 1958.
- Archaeological Survey of India is responsible for protection, conservation and maintenance of such monuments.
Criteria for declaration of monument as national importance
- Ancient monument or archaeological site is not less than 100 years old.
- It has special historical, archaeological or artistic interest.
- Interested public do not have major objections to declare them as of national importance.
Issues with present list of MNI
- Selection Errors: Around quarter of current MNI may not have national importance.
- Minor monuments considered as MNI (Example -Kos Minars, graves of British officers).
- Movable antiquities treated as MNI (Standalone antiquities like sculpture pieces, statues, cannons etc.).
- Untraceable monuments still being considered as MNI (Around 50 monuments missing).
- Over 60% monuments located in five states i.e., UP, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, MP and Maharashtra.
- Inadequate expenditure on conservation and maintenance of MNI.
- Source of problems is absence of definition of term ‘national importance’ and lack of prescribed substantive process/criteria for identifying MNI in AMASR Act or National Policy for Conservation 2014.
Recommendations of Report
- ASI should come up with substantive criteria for declaring MNI.
- Amend AMASR Act or introduce executive order for defining national importance.
- Handover monuments of local importance to states.
- Remove standalone antiquities from the list of MNI.
- De-notify untraceable and minor monuments.
- Add new monuments to address geographical imbalance.
- Increase fund allocation for protecting MNI.