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Chopper over Taj causes flutter

india Updated: Dec 16, 2011 14:46 IST

A helicopter of a private company hovered over the Taj Mahal and made several rounds of the 17th century world heritage monument Wednesday, causing alarm among conservationists. The Archaeological Survey of India has filed a formal complaint with the police, an official said.

The ASI caretaker of the Taj Mahal, Munazzar Ali, has filed a formal complaint with the Taj Ganj police station which has yet to record it as an FIR.

However, the game of passing the buck seems to be on.

Deputy Inspector General Aseem Arun told IANS Friday: "We have ordered an inquiry. The Adlabs people had the permission (to fly the chopper) but the information could not somehow be communicated in time to the concerned agencies."

Aseem Arun told mediapersons that there was obviously some lack of coordination and communication. "The film unit had the permision but information could not reach the concerned agencies in time. This is being investigated."

The ASI chief in Agra, Indudhar Dwivedi, says: "No, they had not taken permission from the ASI to fly over the Taj."

commandant AK Singh of the Central Industrial Security Force, which is tasked with the security of the Taj, said: "We did not have any information."

Conservationists are alarmed. "At this rate any intruder can infiltrate the high security area. Already the Taj is under threat from terrorists' groups," says Shravan Kumar Singh, heritage activist.

Munnazar Ali, conservation assistant at the Taj Mahal, told IANS: "This indeed is a serious matter. Our inquiries reveal they had no permission from the headquarters. The helicopter was dangerously close to the monument. I don't think any sensible person in the ASI would ever give permission. The explanation has to come from the police. We have formally lodged a complaint in the form of an FIR late in the evening at the Taj Ganj police station."

CISF sources said it was a grave breach of security ring. At one point the CISF personnel had taken a position and would have fired but luckily timely information from the district authorities saved the situation, according to CISF sources.

The Agra police officials say they have no record to show the area is under no-flying zone.

Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society president Surendra Sharma told IANS: "This is too alarming. You cannot take a risk like this. What if the helicopter developed some snag and crashed on the heritage monument or fell on visitors? Officials have now admitted that the helicopter was sighted in the no-flying zone."

Earlier, ASI officials gave the impression that a permission had been given to the private company to shoot aerial photographs of the Taj and the Fatehpur Sikri complex by the director of monuments, ASI, in New Delhi. But later no official confirmation was available.

The ASI chief in Agra, Indudhar Dwivedi told the media that no permission had been taken to fly the copter over the Taj Mahal.

Assistant District Magistrate of Agra city Arun Prakash said a documentary film was being produced at the initiative of the central goernment agencies to promote tourism in the country.

The helicopter made eleven rounds of the Taj Mahal on Wednesday.