The Union Cabinet today approved amendments to a law for allowing the central government to carry out infrastructure projects within the limits of "prohibited area" around protected monuments.
The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958 will be amended to allow "public works of national importance" in the prohibited areas, said Union minister Piyush Goyal while briefing reporters on the decisions taken by the Union Cabinet.
A 'prohibited area' means land in the 100-metre radius around a protected monument. Currently, construction is not allowed in the prohibited area except for repair and renovation works.
The ban on new construction within prohibited area was "adversely impacting various public works and developmental projects of the central government", Goyal said.
Public works have been defined as construction works related to infrastructure which are financed and constructed by the central government for public purposes as they are essential to public safety or security.
Its emergent necessity is based upon specific instance of danger to public safety or security.
He said adequate safeguards have been proposed to ensure that monuments remain protected when the infrastructure work is carried out.
Earlier, there was a proposal to bring in an Ordinance in this regard but it was dropped at the last moment.
The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites Remains (Amendment) Bill, 2017 will now be introduced in the Parliament.
At present, as many as 3,686 monuments and sites are centrally-protected under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is responsible for their maintenance.