LAHORE, Feb 28: Punjab has taken lead over other provinces by getting approved the Federal Antiquities Act 1975 amended by the provincial assembly and Antiquates Amendment Act 2012 passed, officials in archaeology department told Dawn.
Officials said since the Punjab government took over monuments under the 18th constitutional amendment in April 2011, these sites were not protected under any provincial law. They said that luckily nothing wrong happened with these monuments during the last 10 months as it would have created a legal crisis for the authorities concerned.
They said during these 10 months if any encroachment had been erected or any other damage was done to these monuments, there was no particular law to counter it.
Previously, the monuments and other heritage sites in the province were protected under the Special Premises (Preservation) Ordinance, 1985. Now with the approval and enactment of the Antiquities Amendment Act 2012, the devolved sites and monuments had also got legal protection.
Under the 18th Amendment, a total of 149 monuments and sites falling within Punjab territory, besides three others in the capital area, had been transferred to the provincial government.
The officials said no other province had so far provided legal cover to the devolved monuments and archeological sites.
Under the Antiquities Amendment Act 2012, an advisory committee consisting of archaeologists, architects, historians and members of the provincial assembly has been constituted under the director general of Punjab archeology department.
Under the Act, if the director general has any reasonable ground to believe that any land contains any monument, he may request the government to acquire such land under the Land Acquisition Act 1894 and such acquisition shall be deemed as acquisition for public purpose.
The DG can also make such request to the government if he or she apprehends that a protected immovable antiquity is in danger of being destroyed, damaged or allowed to decay.