The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government to identify one authority to take charge of the maintenance of the Taj Mahal as well as the redevelopment of the Taj Trapezium Zone. This zone is about 10,400 sq km of area around the monument to protect it from pollution.
“There has to be one authority which takes charge,” Supreme Court Justice Madan Lokur observed, ANI reported. “It seems that authorities have washed their hands of the Taj. We are in a situation where a vision document is prepared without the involvement of the Archaeological Survey of India.”
Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, said that the Archaeological Survey of India is not responsible for the relocation of industry from the Taj Trapezium Zone. He claimed that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was thinking of removing the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway from the list of heritage sites, and feared that it would do the same with the Taj Mahal.
On July 11, the Supreme Court pulled up the Centre and state governments for not acting fast to protect the Taj Mahal. The court said the preservation of the 17th-century monument was a “hopeless cause”. “Either we will shut down Taj Mahal or you demolish or restore it,” the court told the governments.
Five days later, the Centre set up a committee to address the matter of industrial pollution affecting the monument.
On Tuesday, the Uttar Pradesh government filed the first draft of its vision document on the protection and preservation of the monument. The state government said the entire Taj Mahal precinct should be declared a no-plastic zone and that all polluting industries in the region should be closed.