SC BACKS MOVE TO DEMOLISH RESTAURANTS NEAR HAMPI SITE
Context: The Supreme Court on 11th February, confirmed the Karnataka government authorities’ decision to demolish restaurants, hotels, guest houses and other buildings constructed in Virupapura Gaddi, an oval islet formed by the Tungabhadra River and located west of the Hampi World Heritage site.
- The bench concluded that the constructions were in violation of the Mysore Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1961.
- Agreeing with the Karnataka High Court decision that the Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority was empowered to order the demolition of the illegal buildings on the islet, the apex court ordered the authorities to proceed with their demolition work within a month of this judgment.
- The court upheld the validity of a 1988 State notification that “clearly indicates the entire village of Virupapura Gaddi as a protected zone.”
- It said a place need not necessarily boast a monument to be protected.
- It is possible for certain areas to be protected independent of the existence of monuments, if there is a reasonable belief that they contain ruins or relics of historical or archaeological importance
- The Archaeological Survey of India has itself recognized the historical importance of Virupapura Gaddi.
- The government had considered the comprehensive geographical entity of the area, including attributes like its landscape, prehistoric vestiges and water systems.
- Thus, the 1988 notification issued under Section 19(3) of the 1961 Act declaring Virupapura Gaddi as a protected area can’t be said to be without basis.
KARNATAKA ANCIENT AND HISTORICAL MONUMENTS AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES AND REMAINS ACT, 1961.
- It as an act to provide for the preservation of ancient and historical monuments and Archaeological sites and remainsand for the protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects in the State of Karnataka.
- Ten villages in Virupapura Gaddi were declared as ‘protected areas’ way back in 1988 under the Mysore Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1961.
- As per Section 20(1) of the 1961 Act, the lands in ‘protected areas’ can be used only for the purposes of cultivation, unless otherwise approved by the State Government.
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF HAMPI
- The UNESCO had declared Hampi as a World Heritage Site in 1989 and the Hampi Act was enacted for the preservation of this site.
- It is evident that the recognition of Hampi as a World Heritage site was a testament to its immense historical importance.
- It was also a crucial milestone in the efforts to preserve and protect the Hampi monuments, as it paved way for India to access the annual World Heritage Fund of US$ 4 million earmarked by the UNESCO for the upkeep of World Heritage sites.