March 20, 2023
  • 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.
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