"The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) is working to make the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act, 1958, more flexible and public friendly," said Union Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy on Tuesday, 14 June.
Speaking at the 37th meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Archeology (CABA) in Delhi, Reddy said that "an amendment is under consideration of the AMASR Act."
The minister did not clarify further on the kind of amendment that will be done in the Act.
The AMASR Act is "an act to provide for the preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance, for the regulation of archaeological excavations and for the protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects. The ASI is responsible for archeological research and preservation of monuments of cultural and historical significance, and comes under the Ministry of Culture."
The meeting was attended by Arjun Ram Meghwal, MoS for Ministry of Culture and Parliamentary Affairs; Meenakshi Lekhi, MoS for Ministry of Culture and External Affairs; four ex Director-Generals (D-G) of the ASI, and the current D-G of the ASI, among others.
At the meeting, Meghwal said that a "standardisation should be made for the inclusion of site/monument in ASI list, and if need may arise, the monuments can also be dropped from the list."
An ASI source told The Quint, "While it's not clear what kind of amendment will be made to the AMASR Act, speculation is that might be about the no-build zone around monuments."
The AMASR Act, 1958, was amended in 2010, according to which the 100 metre radius of an ASI-protected monument is "prohibited area," and hence, no construction is allowed there. As per the amendment, after the 100-metre area, the next 300-metre is "regulated area."
At the meeting, Reddy spoke about how Rakhigarhi in Haryana, Hastinapur in Uttar Pradesh, Dholavira in Gujarat, Sibsagar in Assam, Aadichanallur in Tamil Nadu -- the five sites of cultural importance -- are being "developed as per international norms."
He also spoke about the epigraphy wing of the ASI, which has deciphered and discovered "more than 3,500 inscriptions across the country, among other things pertaining to the return of antiquities, job creation, and excavations.