A draft Bill, aimed at protecting India’s geological heritage that includes fossils, sedimentary rocks, natural structures, has raised alarm in India’s geo-sciences and paleontology community.



  • Geoheritage” is a generic but descriptive term applied to sites or areas of geologic features with significant scientific, educational, cultural, or aesthetic value.
  • Geoheritage sites serve the public interest. Such sites are critical to advancing knowledge about natural hazards, groundwater supplies, soil processes, climate and environmental changes, evolution of life, etc.
  • The Geological Survey of India has declared 32 geo-heritage sites. These include –
      • Siwalik Fossil Park, Himachal Pradesh;
      • Stromatolite Fossil Park, Jharmarkotra Rock Phosphate deposit, Udaipur,
      • Akal Fossil Wood Park, Jaisalmer.
  • The delipidated state of many of these places shows the need for a geo-heritage Bill.
  • Currently, there is no legislation for the protection of geo-heritage sites in India.
  • Due to this, the sites are threatened with destruction due to decay, population pressure, and changing social and economic conditions.
  • Hence, the Ministry of Mines introduced the draft Geo-Heritage Sites and Geo-relics (Preservation and Maintenance) Bill, 2022.


Key Features of the Draft Bill

  • Declaration of Geoheritage sites –
      • The central government may declare a site as a geoheritage site of national importance.
      • Geoheritage sites must contain features of geological significance, such as geo-relics or natural rock sculptures.
      • Geo-relics are movable relics such as fossils or meteorites.
  • Protection of Geoheritage sites –
      • The draft Bill empowers the central government to acquire, preserve, and maintain geoheritage sites.
      • Director General of the Geological Survey of India will be given powers for this purpose, such as surveying and excavation.
      • Construction on these sites will be prohibited.
  • Protection of Geo-relics –
      • The central government may declare that a geo-relic cannot be moved from its site, by notification, unless permitted by the Director General.
      • The Director General may direct the acquisition of a geo-relic to protect it.
  • Offences & Penalties —
      • Offences under the Bill include (i) destruction or misuse of a geoheritage site, (ii) illegal construction, and (iii) damaging or illegally moving a geo-relic.
      • These offences are punishable with a fine of up to five lakh rupees or imprisonment of up to six months, or both.


Criticism of the Bill

  • The critics argue that all the authority with respect to geoheritage sites and geo-relics is being vested in the hands of the DG of the Geological Survey of India.
  • As an alternative, the critics suggest that there needs to be a broader committee of experts from a wider range of institutions.
  • This would mean that the interests and difficulties faced by researchers, who actually work in the field, are kept in mind.
  • At present, the Bill has not been presented before the Union Cabinet by the Ministry of Mines. Only after an approval from the Union Cabinet, can the Bill be tabled in the Parliament.