With the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) passing the buck on each other, there has been no further action on the 200 complaints lodged with the police on violation of the heritage protection laws in the city.
While ASI’s job ends at issuing notices and filing police complaints against violators, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation claims lack of co-operation from the police to act on these complaints.
“Once the ASI files a criminal complaint against an offender, the matter goes to court and there remains nothing for the AMC to do,” says deputy municipal commissioner I K Patel.
He says, “When a copy of a simple notice is received from the ASI, the AMC needs to take action, but in most cases it is not possible if there is no police to protect the AMC demolition squad.” When asked what happens in other non-court cases, he said that there was no coordination among AMC, ASI and police in taking action for various reasons.
“The ASI is helpless beyond issuing notices and sending copies to AMC because it is not adequately staffed and has no executive powers to deal with demolition of illegal structures,” says Superintending Archaeologist for Vadodara Circle of ASI, Dr Jitendra Nath
Dr Nath says the AMC is “main agency for preventing such constructions as it has the power to do so, not the ASI”. He rules out regularisation of such buildings under the impact fee law as the remedy to solve the problem because doing so would be in violation of Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act,1994. a Central Act. “Secondly, the ASI will definitely not charge money from offenders to regularise their illegal buildings in violation of a Central law which is being strictly monitored by the National Monuments Authority,” he said, adding, “the AMC needs to take policy decision on top level about prevention of such constructions”.