Legally Speaking: Sustainable Development, Conservation And Protection Of Indian Himalayan Heritage
The Indian Himalayan Region is spread across 13 Indian States/Union Territories (namely Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Assam and West Bengal), stretching across 2500 kilometers. Nearly 50 million people reside in this region, which is characterized by a diverse demographic, and versatile economic, environmental, social and political systems. A repository of heritage for protection purpose , definition of a Monument, means an established landmark which a surveyor uses as part of a legal description of real property, a building or other structure of historic importance, which may be recognized formally and marked by federal, state or local agencies, and therefore may not be torn down or substantially altered.
The Legislative framework for Protection of monuments is the focus area for any such project in IHR. Article 253 of the Constitution of India, enables Parliament to legislate for the implementation of any treaty, agreement or convention with any other country or countries, or any decision, made at any international conference, association or other body. Any such legislation can be enacted even if the subject matter of the legislation is an item in the State List of the Constitution of India.
Perspective From Constitution Of India
The Constitution of India has divided the jurisdiction over these monuments, cultural heritage, and archeological sites as follows:
1. Union: Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archeological sites and remains, declared by Parliament, by law to be of national importance.
2. State: Ancient and Historical Monuments other than those declared by Parliament to be of national importance.
3. Concurrent: Besides the above, both the Union and States have concurrent jurisdiction over archeological sites and remains other than those declared by law and
In this regard the International Conventions are also relevant for protection and conservation of art and cultural heritage and to which India is a signatory.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) under the provisions of the AMASR Act, 1958 protects monuments, sites and remains of national importance by giving a two-months’ notice for inviting objections, if any in this regard. After the specified two-month’s period, and after scrutinizing the objections, if any, received in this regard, the ASI makes the decision to bring a monument under its protection.
These monuments and sites are maintained and preserved through various Circles of the ASI spread all over the country. The Circles look after the research on these monuments and conservation activities, while the Science Branch with its headquarters at Dehradun carries out chemical preservation and the Horticulture Branch with its headquarters at Agra is entrusted with the laying out of gardens and environmental development.
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There are at present more than 3650 ancient monuments and archeological sites and remains of national importance. These monuments belong to different periods, ranging from the prehistoric period to the colonial period and are located in different geographical settings. They include temples, mosques, tombs, churches, cemeteries, forts, palaces, step-wells, rock-cut caves, and secular architecture as well as ancient mounds and sites which represent the remains of ancient habitation.
The aforesaid is the basic framework for legal compliance to appreciate heritage conservation related to states in Indian Himalayan Region.
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Contributed By Advocate Dr Harsh Pathak