The Supreme Court on Wednesday came down heavily on the Centre and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for not being able to protect the iconic Taj Mahal, issuing a warning it will “shut it down” and the authorities should “demolish or restore” the Mughal structure.
The apex court was unhappy as the Uttar Pradesh government failed to come out with a vision document to protect the Taj Mahal.
“Either we will shut down the Taj or you demolish or restore it,” the court told the government.
It directed the Centre to furnish full details of the steps taken and action required to be taken for protecting the iconic monument.
A bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said no concrete steps have been taken by the government, despite a parliamentary standing committee report on Taj’s protection.
The Centre told the bench that Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur was assessing air pollution level in and around the mausoleum and will give its report in four months.
It said a special committee has also been set up to find the source of pollution in and around the Taj, which will suggest measures to prevent it.
The bench said it will hear the matter on day-to-day basis from July 31.
“Do you realise the loss caused to the country due to your apathy?,” observed the bench.
The Uttar Pradesh government had earlier told the bench that it would place before the court a draft of vision document on protection and preservation of the Taj Mahal that was built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.
Saying it would hear the case next on July 31 on a day-to-day basis, the bench told the Centre to furnish full details of the steps taken and action it intends to take for protecting the Taj Mahal.
The court also sought personal appearance of the chairman of Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) a 10,400 sq km area spread over the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur in Rajasthan — to explain violation of it’s orders prohibiting expansion of industrial units in the zone.
The Uttar Pradesh government had said it was also trying to take care of the environment around the structure so that the historic monument could be there for another 400 years and not just for a generation.
The court has been hearing a plea filed by environmentalist M.C. Mehta seeking protection of the Taj from the ill-effects of polluting gases and deforestation in and around the area