The Yamuna Expressway may well turn out to be yet another worry for the Taj Mahal, already battling pollution and signs of decay.
The expressway — opened on August 9 — has doubled the weekend visitors to the Taj, pushing the ASI into asking the National Environment Engineering Research Institute (Neeri) to conduct an environment-impact study pending since 2006.
If needed, the tourist flow may be regulated.
Earlier, around 15,000 to 20,000 people visited the Taj daily over the weekend. “Now, the numbers have gone up to 25,000 to 42,000 and are expected to cross 50,000 as the season picks up,” said Munazar Ali, a Taj Mahal conservation assistant.
The expressway has cut the the Delhi-Agra travel time to two-and-a-half hours.
In 2006, the Supreme Court ordered a study to de-stress the monument. The Neeri team will gauge the impact of the increased tourist activity on temperature and humidity — a rise in even one of them can cause damage — and offer solutions. In case of an adverse report, visitor movement could be regulated, Ali said.