Realty plans near monuments to face banks’ scrutiny

Realty plans near monuments to face banks’ scrutiny

Amid rising complaints of real estate construction around protected monuments, the government has asked banks to conduct strict due diligence before lending to projects adjacent to heritage sites.

This comes after the National Monument Authority (NMA) wrote a letter to the government, raising concerns, according to two officials aware of the development.

Lenders have been directed to blacklist developers that encroach on land near monuments, report them as fraudulent and facilitate strict action against them by the relevant authorities.

“Banks have been suitably advised to review all documentation and check with local authorities and NMA, if needed,” said one of the officials cited, adding that the government will take strong action against such wrongdoing under existing laws.
Earlier this year, the government informed the Parliament that 50 of India’s 3,693 centrally-protected monuments are untraceable. According to the report, rapid urbanisation has engulfed 14, 12 have been submerged by the construction of reservoirs and dams, and 24 can’t be found.A bank official said that while lenders take all precautions, at times, the local authorities overlook transgressions and give approvals that may violate building rules near monuments. “In such cases, it becomes very difficult for us, but we will insist on more site visits, among other documentation,” he said.

Council takes note of MNIs
The government is expected to reintroduce in the Parliament the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill, which prohibits construction within 100 metres of protected monuments.

After being passed by the Lok Sabha in 2017, it was sent to committee in the Rajya Sabha. The panel submitted its report in 2018.

Earlier this year, the Economic Advisory Council to the PM (EAC-PM) suggested the government review the criteria for declaring monuments to be of national importance and hand over those of local importance to the respective state governments. The panel also recommended enhancing the funds allocated for the upkeep of these monuments. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) “should publish a book of notifications with detailed information about the provenance of all monuments of national importance (MNI),” the EAC-PM said in its report.

According to the report, the government had allocated Rs 428 crore for the upkeep and protection of 3,695 monuments, which is approximately Rs 11 lakh per MNI.

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