Himachal wants curbs on buildings near ancient monuments to go

Dharamsala, Dec 21: The Himachal Pradesh assembly here Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution asking for amendments in the central act to enable government institutions and citizens in the state to build or renovate their structures near ancient and protected monuments.

Moving the resolution, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said, ‘Since land is at a premium in the Himachal Pradesh and the population is increasing, it has now become a legitimate demand of the people to exercise their right to construction.’

The resolution seeks changes in the Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act of 2010, which prohibits construction or renovation of buildings within a 100-metre radius of monuments declared as ‘ancient’ and ‘protected’.

Dhumal specifically asked for changes in Section 20-A and 20-B of the act.

The chief minister first demanded that the Archaeological Survey of India’s prohibition limit should be reduced from 100 to 50 metres and the regulated limit from 200 to 100 metres. But when opposition members and Speaker Tulsi Ram intervened, the chief minister reworded his own resolution to say ‘the vicinity of the preserved monuments’ rather than specify distance from it.

The five-day winter session of the assembly began here Dec 19.

IANS