Himachal passes resolution to soften ASI regulations around ancient monuments


By: ML Verma

Dharamshala (Dec 21): Himachal Pradesh Assembly today passed a unanimous resolution to amend the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Site and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act 2010.

Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who also hold tourism portfolio, moved a resolution seeking amendment to Section 20A and 20B of the said Act as both clauses were hampering the pace of development regopns with difficult terrain and complicated ground conditions. Urging the Union government, the Chief Minister named scores of ancient monument and demanded freedom in repairing and renovating the memorials and the nearby structures.

The Chief Minister, who first demanded the ASI prohibition limit from 100 meters to 50 meters and the regulated limit from present 200 meters to 100 meters,later amended his own resolution when the opposition members and Speaker intervened, to impose restictions in just the vicinity of the preserved monuments. The Chief Minister was supported by the equivocal opposition which was quite unsure of its arguments inside and outside the House.

Senior leaders Kuldip Pathania and Gangu Ram Musafir said the intentions of ASI supported by the government of India are very relevant and the ancient monuments should be protected at all costs. But they later succumbed to ruling party’s logic of creating more space to the residents and non-utility of keeping the historic structures un-repaired or untouched for the general use. They said these ancient sites could be of a great tourism importance and their surroundings should be popped up.

Meanwhile, during a press conference later the Congress leaders when asked about why they did not oppose the resolution which was moved cleverly by the BJP government in the guise of gaining more land which “could be” use for commercial purposes, s majority of the Congressmen cut a sorry figure and preferred not to reply. They said they are sure that the ASI and government of India would never agree to such an anti-environment and commercial proposal. The Congress leaders led by Chandra Kumar interestingly had organized the press conference against the rising land mafia and sale of land to outsiders by the BJP. A senior leader who does not want to be quoted later agreed that the government’s game plan could not be understood by the fragmented opposition and it did not even occur to them that the surroundings of various archaeological sites could be used by the land and tourism mafia in the tiny hill state.

The Congress is organising a rally outside the Vidhan Sabha here on Thursday against the misuse of land for real estate and mining by some government sponsored contractors.

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ML Verma is a Senior journalist, with more than a decade of experience of active reporting for electronic media, news agencies and fast paced online media.

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