The government today approved amendments to a law for allowing construction of Centre-funded infrastructure projects within the limits of “prohibited area” around protected monuments. The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act will be amended to allow “public work of national importance” in the prohibited areas, said Union minister Piyush Goyal briefing reporters on decisions taken by the Union Cabinet. Prohibited area means an area of 100 metres around protected monuments. Currently, construction is not allowed in the prohibited area except for repair and renovation works. This, Goyal said, was creating hurdles in executing infrastructure projects.
Public works have been defined as construction works related to infrastructure which are financed and constructed by the central government for public purposes as they are essential to public safety or security. Its emergent necessity is based upon specific instance of danger to public safety or security of public at large. He said adequate safeguards have been proposed to ensure that monuments remain protected when the infrastructure work is carried out. At present, as many as 3,686 monuments and sites are centrally-protected under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is responsible for their maintenance.