All Polluting Industries Around Taj Mahal Should be Closed; UP govt to Supreme Court

Date :25/07/2018

Under flame for not being proactive in securing the Taj Mahal's immaculate beauty, the UP government on Tuesday filed a vision document in the Supreme Court that incorporates measures to decrease pollution in Agra and neighboring areas and announce the vicinity of the monument a 'no plastic zone'.

The affidavit additionally says that like different monuments, Taj could likewise be brought under the Center's 'Adopta Heritage Scheme' under which public and private companies can be entrusted with task, for example, tidiness and amenities like toilets and drinking water.
The 250-page document, filed by UP's additional advocate general Aishvarya Bhati, enlists the following measures to be taken by the state government to protect the environment and reduce pollution levels in and around the Taj Mahal. 
  • UP Govt's vision document in the SC suggests a comprehensive traffic management plan to promote pedestrian movement in the Taj heritage precinct
  • Roads along the Yamuna riverfront be planned so that traffic is limited and pedestrian movement encouraged, it says
  • There should be no construction in the Yamuna floodplain and the riverbank should only have natural plantations, it says
  • The report has also stated that use of bottled water should be prohibited inside the monument.
These steps were also prescribed for Agra city and Taj Trapezium Zonea 10,400 sq km area which has over 40 protected monuments, including three world heritage sites - Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. 
"Heritage precincts identified should be brought under 'Adopt a Heritage Scheme' to improve basic civic amenities for residents. This is especially needed in craft clusters like Gokulpura (pachikari or marble inlay work), Nai ki Mandir (zardozi), Tedi Bagiya (carpet weaving)," the vision document said. 
Known as one of the Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Taj Mahal was built between 1632 and 1653 at Gara by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. She had died in 1631 while giving birth to their 14th child.
The draft vision document comes just about two weeks after an anguished Supreme Court had stated,, “Either restore it (Taj Mahal) or demolish it.”
“You can shut down Taj. You can demolish it if you like. You can also do away with it if you have already decided,” the Bench had said on July 11 after getting a “vague” answer from the Ministry of Environment and Forest. 
The judges had lost temper after Additional Solicitor General AS Nadkarni said the Center had set-up an advisory group to hire external experts as advised by the court to find out exact source of contamination in and around Taj which would take three-four months.
“Uttar Pradesh is not bothered. There is no action plan or vision document. We want you to give us an action plan so do what you propose to do. We will hear it and finally dispose it (of). If it has to be shut down let it be shut down,” the bench had told the ASG. 
“Eiffel Tower gets 80 million visitors every year. This is eight times more than what Taj Mahal attracts and it is more beautiful than Eiffel tower that looks like a TV tower. Due to sheer apathy of officials, this country is losing crucial foreign exchange,” it had said. 
“Do you realise the loss due to this sheer lethargy? Foreign exchange, infrastructure, everything is lost due to this. There is a loss to tourism. One monument can do it, but there is apathy,” the Bench had told the ASG and guided the Center to to file an affidavit enumerating the steps taken and proposed for preservation of Taj Mahal.
It had on May 9 pulled up Archeological Survey of India for its inability to take measures to protect the monument.
“So according to you, you are looking after the Taj very well and nothing has to be done. You are not ready to accept that there is a problem,” the bench had said.
The above statement said by bench in response to the contention made by ASI which says that the green patches on the Taj’s surface were caused by flying algae.
Justice Lokur retorted: “What? Flying algae? Do algae have wings? Look Mr. Rao, you are not being serious. The fact is that you are not aware of what is causing the change in colour. Rao initially said ‘we are looking into the matter with the help of international experts’.”
Representing the Center, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said such a stand with respect to ASI isn't right and "first we have to accept the fact that there is a problem with the Taj".
On May 1, the court had asked: “We are concerned at the change of the colour of the Taj Mahal. It became yellowish, then turned brownish and now it is greenish. Why is it happening?”
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