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Concert near Taj Mahal sparks controversy

Event allegedly organised in violation of restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court on holding such programmes within 500 metres area around the monument
The event, ‘Incredible Taj Concert – Harmony’, was organized at Taj View Point on the other side of Yamuna with Taj Mahal in the backdrop, near Mehtab Bagh, an ASI-protected site (HT Photo)
Published on Sep 23, 2021 08:16 PM IST

AGRA A concert organised by the Agra Development Authority (ADA) on Wednesday evening within 315 metres area around the Taj Mahal sparked a controversy as it was allegedly in violation of restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court for holding such programmes within 500 metres area around the monument.

The event, ‘Incredible Taj Concert – Harmony’, was organized at Taj View Point on the other side of Yamuna with Taj Mahal in the backdrop, near Mehtab Bagh, an ASI-protected site.

ADA vice-chairman Rajender Pensiya denied such allegations, saying the concert was held in compliance of SC’s guidelines. “It was a small-scale programme with 50 people in attendance. Neither any heavy structure was set up nor the decibel levels were beyond limits,” he said.

Renowned poets of Agra, including Som Thakur, Ruchi Chaturvedi, Ameer Akbarabadi, Sushil Sarit and Deepak Mehra, rendered their poetry at the event. The concert began at 5.30 pm with a ghazal by Sudhir Narain and ended at 8pm. Commissioner, Agra division, Amit Gupta was the chief guest on the occasion.

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The event was reminiscent of the famous Yanni show held in the backdrop of Taj Mahal in 1997. Yanni was permitted to hold his mega show on the bank of Yamuna, 500 metres away from the Taj Mahal periphery with restricted sound limits and instructions to disband the pontoon bridge after the show.

The then superintending archaeologist of ASI PBS Senger said that the apex court was very clear in its order and had permitted the Yanni Show at a location 500 metres away from the Taj Mahal.

“The SC was concerned because heavy construction work was undertaken for the Yanni Show and the pontoon bridge was created. Heavy generators were also in operation for the mega show. The apex court had issued guidelines for any event to be held near the monument and thus it is important as to what was the scale of the Wednesday event and whether permission had been sought from the ASI, if it was within 500 metres of Taj Mahal periphery,” stated Senger.

“The SC had issued certain guidelines considering the Taj area as fragile. There are restrictions on heavy constructions, heavy vehicle movement and decibel level violation. Any event could be held near the Taj Mahal only after assessment of impact on the monument,’ said the ADA vice-chairman.

“The event on Wednesday evening was on a much lower scale with only 50 people present. Only shades were set up at the venue while vehicles were parked a kilometer away and no construction activity was undertaken,” stated Pensiya.

ASI superintendent Vasant Swarankar was not available for comments despite efforts to contact him.

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