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Taj Mahal turning yellow: SC pulls up Centre, UP governments

The Supreme Court said it was “surprising” that the Archaeological Survey of India, which is responsible for the protection Taj Mahal, was not consulted.

india Updated: Jul 26, 2018 22:35 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Taj Mahal,Taj Mahal conservation,ASI
Garbage is seen on the polluted banks of the river Yamuna near the historic Taj Mahal in Agra.(Reuters File Photo)

Irked by the lack of coordination between various agencies of Centre and Uttar Pradesh over maintenance of the Taj Mahal, the Supreme Court on Thursday pulled up the two governments and asked them who was responsible for the upkeep of the monument that is turning yellow in colour due to multiple sources of pollution.

“First the environment ministry files an affidavit, then ASI, then the Uttar Pradesh government. What is happening?” said Justice MB Lokur after he perused the draft vision document given to the court by UP. The document has been prepared by Delhi-based School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) and the court questioned the state’s concern in the matter.

Justice MB Lokur along with Justice Deepak Gupta are hearing a PIL filed in 1984 by environmentalist MC Mehta for protection of Taj. Top court has been issuing directives to preserve the World Heritage site.

The court took exception to the fact that the vision document was prepared without consulting the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), agency responsible to maintain the Mughal-era mausoleum.

“Why have you given a draft plan? Are we supposed to vet it for you? Is it our job to vet it?” the bench asked the counsel appearing for the state government. “The right hand does not know what the left hand is doing,” commented Justice Lokur.

He said: “Someone has to take responsibility. There has to be one authority which takes charge. It seems that authorities have washed their hands off the Taj. We are now in a situation where a vision document is prepared without ASI’s involvement.”

The judges were shocked to know that despite the top court’s 1996 order, polluting industrial units continue to operate and expand in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) – over 10,400 square km of area surrounding Agra.

First Published: Jul 26, 2018 13:41 IST