National Monuments Authority (NMA), has made a record number of 101 Heritage By Laws during the covid period (from 2019 onwards), covering a total of 126 centrally protected monuments. This is in comparison to five Heritage By- Laws (HBLs) covering 31 centrally protected monuments finalized in the preceding ten years.
Currently, draft HBLs awaited from ASI for finalization and sending them to the Parliament approval include monuments like, Taj Mahal; Qutub Minar; Dwarkadheesh Temple Dwarka; Hemis Gompa, Leh and Martand Temple, Kashmir.
It is also noteworthy that, as per the AMASR Act and the mandate given to the NMA, the HBLs work was supposed to be finished by 2012, covering the entire gamut of more than 3600 centrally protected monuments throughout India. Since last few years, the task of making HBLs has been speeded up and a separate HBL department created with four experts headed by a conservation architect. The HBL meetings started being conducted thrice a week. These meetings also involved, inviting the DG ASI and various other regional directors and surveyor archaeologists from every part of the country, eventually resulting in smooth flow of survey maps and draft HBLs from ASI, especially from central, eastern and northern India.
After receiving people’s comments and suggestions, they are discussed after a period of 30 days and if found useful the HBLs amended, and sent to the Ministry of Culture seeking their affirmation and then getting it ratified by the Parliament as the final acceptance.
The National Monuments authority, was set up as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites Remains (AMASR) (Amendment Validation) Act 2010, entrusting it with the responsibility to consider granting permissions to applicants for conservation related activity in the centrally prohibited and regulated areas. The need for the HBLs consequently was induced by the increasing rate of urbanization, development, mounting population pressure, and concomitantly the aggravating pressure on land around the centrally protected monuments, which often obstructed and came in the way of the monument’s 300 meters peripheral jurisdiction. This made it imperative, for regulating the property and individual growth around the monuments, along with the need to balance it with the cause of protecting and preserving the monuments itself. Such situations and the requirements of the time instrumentalized in the formation of the Heritage by-Laws (HBLs) by the NMA which regularly notifies on its website, inviting the local people’s comments and suggestions with regard to its HBL content.