SC decries pathetic state of Taj

The Supreme Court on Wednesday condemned the apathy shown by authorities to the cause of protecting the iconic Taj Mahal, saying the preservation of the monument may be a “hopeless cause.”

The Green Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta was miffed to find out that the authority in charge of the Taj Trapezium Zone was still entertaining applications from industrialists to expand their factories into the protected zone despite a long-standing moratorium from the Supreme Court.

Order to chairman

The Bench told petitioner-activist M.C. Mehta that if “they [the authorities] trouble us we will trouble them back.” The court directed the chairman of the authority to appear before it on the next date, June 31.

In May, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) said unwashed socks worn by visitors and rampant algae seem to turn the Taj Mahal from its natural white to yellow, brown and green.

The ASI, charged with the maintenance of the historic monument, said numerous footfalls everyday had taken a toll on the Taj. It was not possible to distribute socks to all visitors. Many go wearing their own socks.

The discussion in the court ranged from the commitment or the lack of it on the part of the authorities to protect the monument to getting disposable socks from abroad.

Upkeep in shambles

On May 1, Mr. Mehta had handed over to the Bench photographs showing the discolouration on the pristine white of the Taj Mahal.

Mr. Mehta had told the court that the upkeep of the UNESCO World Heritage site was in shambles.

River Yamuna, which used to flow nearby, had dried up. Encroachments and industries had cropped up in the neighbourhood of the white marble mausoleum. CCTVs hardly worked. The government merely viewed the Taj as a money-making venture, he said.

Justice Lokur had wondered whether the Taj Mahal in its present discoloured form would end up being the “eighth wonder of the world.”

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