SC Unhappy Over Taj’s Protection

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NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court on Thursday came down heavily on the Uttar Pradesh government for a draft report on the vision document for the protection of the Taj Mahal without consulting the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) tasked with protecting the monument.

A Bench of Justices M.B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta expressed shock at the report, which pointed to the presence of over 1,100 polluting industries in the region. “We would not have been in this position, had you done your job,” the Bench said, adding that there was no coordination among the agencies responsible for the protection and preservation of the 17th century monument.

 “We can’t have 10 different people doing 10 different thing,” the Bench said, as it asked Attorney- General K.K. Venugopal which department of the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh governments was responsible for maintenance of the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ).

The TTZ is an area of 10,400 square kilometres spread over the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur in Rajasthan.

 “What will happen if UNESCO says we will withdraw the world heritage tag from the Taj Mahal,” the Bench asked Mr. Venugopal.

The Bench also asked whether the Centre or the authorities concerned submitted the draft management plan for the Taj Mahal to UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre in Paris. It directed the ASI to submit its report on the vision document and spell out the steps to protect the monument.

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