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Supreme Court gives UP govt more time to submit Taj Mahal protection plan

On August 28, the Centre had told the Supreme Court that it had communicated to the Uttar Pradesh government to send a proposal to declare Agra a heritage city.

lucknow Updated: Sep 25, 2018 23:36 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
Supreme Court,UP govt,Taj Mahal
Workers sweep the premises of Taj Mahal under 'Swachhta hi Seva' campaign, in Agra.(PTI/File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday extended until November 15 the time for the Uttar Pradesh government to give its vision document on protecting the Taj Mahal from pollution, after the state told the court that it had started an exercise to determine how to give parts of Agra city ‘heritage’ status.

Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta and additional advocate general Aishwarya Bhatti, appearing for the UP government, said that Ahmedabad-basedCentre for Environment Planning and Technology has been asked to prepare a report on how Agra can be declared a ‘heritage’ city, but expressed difficulty in extending the status to the entire city.

“There is a possibility of identifying some area surrounding the Taj Mahal that can be declared as heritage,” Mehta suggested, also mentioning Fatehpur Sikri and Agra Fort as monument that could fall in the heritage category. He told the bench headed by Justice MB Lokur said that “in principle” there was no objection in declaring all of Agra a heritage city, but that would have “several ramifications”.

“You can probably earmark some area around the monument as heritage,” Justice Lokur said.

On August 28, the Centre had told the court that it had communicated to the Uttar Pradesh government to send a proposal to declare Agra a heritage city. It had also said that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was in the process of preparing a heritage plan for the Taj Mahal, which would be filed with the The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) in three months.

Bhatti said that officials from UP government had visited Ahmedabad to study the procedure followed to declare the city as ‘heritage’. However, they learnt that only around 5.5kms in Ahmedabad was given the heritage tag. Besides seeking an extension in submitting a vision document, which was to be given by October 15, Bhati told the bench that School of Planning and Architecture has asked for three additional experts from the field of water resources, air pollution and a hydrologist to prepare the paper.

She suggested the names of institutes from where these experts could be called to assist the school in the work, which the bench allowed. The court fixed November 29 as the next date of hearing.

Acting on a petition filed by lawyer environmentalist MC Mehta, the SC has been monitoring the maintenance of Taj Mahal and has issued directives to Centre and UP government in this regard. “If the Taj Mahal goes once, you will not get a second chance,” the bench of justices Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta had warned authorities on August 28.

First Published: Sep 25, 2018 23:36 IST