The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that the joint secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and the commissioner of Agra Division are responsible for maintenance of the Taj Trapezium Zone, reported PTI.
In a hearing on July 26, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said that an authority has to take responsibility for protection of the Taj Mahal. The Centre was asked to inform the court about which departments of the central and Uttar Pradesh governments would be responsible for the maintenance and protection of Taj Trapezium Zone.
“There has to be one authority which takes charge,” Justice Lokur had said. “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.”
The Taj Trapezium Zone is an area, measuring about 10,400 sq km, around the monument to protect it from pollution.
The ASI told the top court that its director general would be responsible for the maintenance of the mausoleum, which is a World Heritage site. The conservation body also said it had given to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization a plan on the monument back in 2013. The court said, “Our concern should be far greater than that shown by the UNESCO on Taj Mahal.”
On July 11, the court pulled up the Centre and state government 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,” it said. Five days later, the Centre set up a committee to address the matter of industrial pollution affecting the monument.
On July 24, the UP government filed the first draft of its vision document on the protection and preservation of the monument. It said that the Taj Mahal precinct should be declared a no-plastic zone and that all polluting industries in the region should be closed. The court had then criticised the UP government for not even consulting the ASI in the process of filing the first draft.