Are pro­tected struc­tures re­ally pro­tected?

SUR­PRIS­ING None of the own­ers of 60 pro­tected mon­u­ments in Luc­know have signed agree­ment with ASI, which is a man­date un­der Sec­tion 6 of AMASR Act, 1958

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - LUCKNOW -

LUC­KNOW: It’s been more than 90 years since mon­u­ments in and around Luc­know got the cen­trally pro­tected sta­tus.

But not a sin­gle owner has en­tered into an agree­ment with the cus­to­dian of th­ese struc­tures (ASI), which is a man­date un­der Sec­tion 6 of An­cient Mon­u­ments and Sites Re­mains (AMASR) Act, 1958 (as amended in 2010).

There are over 60 pro­tected mon­u­ments in the state cap­i­tal, but none have signed the agree­ment, said Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey of In­dia (ASI) of­fi­cials.

How does it af­fect the mon­u­ment? As per Sec­tion 6 of AMASR Act 1958, the col­lec­tor has to pro­pose the owner of the pro­tected mon­u­ment to en­ter into an agree­ment with the cen­tral govern­ment (ASI) within a spec­i­fied pe­riod for the main­te­nance of the mon­u­ment.

The agree­ment also in­cludes clar­i­fi­ca­tion on points like main­te­nance of the mon­u­ment, its cus­tody, re­stric­tion of the owner’s right and other is­sues.

But in the ab­sence of such agree­ment, the so-called own­ers of the mon­u­ments are mis­us­ing the struc­tures.

ASI of­fi­cials said the “il­le­gal and un­eth­i­cal construction” at Ch­hota Imam­bada in which ce­ment was used in­stead of per­mis­si­ble surkhi and lime is per­haps a glar­ing ex­am­ple where its owner (HAT) mis­used the struc­ture, caus­ing ir­re­versible dam­age to it.

“HAT has not en­tered into any agree­ment with the ASI as it is re­quired to sign un­der Sec­tion 6 of the AMASR Act, 1958,”— reads ASI’s let­ter to its head­quar­ters.

The ASI dis­closed this fact in re­sponse to the RTI by a city­based her­itage en­thu­si­ast, seek­ing in­for­ma­tion about the sta­tus of the pre­sen­ta­tion he made on Oc­to­ber 15, 2014 re­gard­ing the in­duc­tion of Clock Tower in ASI’s pro­tec­tion list un­der Sec­tion 4 of An­cient Mon­u­ments and Sites Re­mains Act, 1958 (as amended in 2010).

“I had given a pre­sen­ta­tion in 2015 to sec­re­tary cul­ture, Govern­ment of In­dia and di­rec­tor gen­eral ASI, ask­ing them why Luc­know’s Clock Tower does not find place on its pro­tec­tion list when it qual­i­fies the terms in Sec­tion 2 (a) of AMASR Act, 1958,” said S Mo­hammed Haider, a her­itage en­thu­si­ast who later filed an RTI to know the progress on his pre­sen­ta­tion.

In re­sponse to the RTI, the ASI also blamed HAT for Ch­hota Imam­bada’s con­di­tion.

The ASI men­tioned that HAT is not ready to en­ter into an agree­ment with it — a man­date un­der Sec­tion 6 of the act. The city has over 60 pro­tected mon­u­ments. But, as per ASI’s Luc­know Cir­cle, not even a sin­gle mon­u­ment has en­tered into an agree­ment.

The ASI also al­leged sev­eral il­le­gal in­ter­ven­tions by the HAT and district ad­min­is­tra­tion in con­text to the cen­trally pro­tected mon­u­ment and en­croach­ment in its vicin­ity.

“In this sit­u­a­tion, it is not ad­vis­able to take the clock tower un­der cen­tral pro­tec­tion with­out to­tal con­trol over the struc­ture,” the ASI’s let­ter fur­ther reads.

“We are mak­ing sin­cere ef­forts for the agree­ment. But HAT is play­ing no heed to­wards our re­minders. It’s per­haps the most im­por­tant sec­tion of act as it fixes the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the stake hold­ers,” said Indu Prakash, su­per­in­tend­ing ar­chae­ol­o­gist, Luc­know Cir­cle, Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey of In­dia.

HT

The Clock Tower in Old City.

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