After repeated interactions over the issue of the preservation of the Taj Mahal, the Supreme Court of India, the country’s apex court, has now given an ultimatum to the Central and Uttar Pradesh governments saying. The court said, “Either we will shut down the Taj or you demolish or restore it.” The court was hearing another petition regarding the protection of the Taj by environmentalist M.C. Mehta when they finally declared it a “hopeless case” and tried to call the Central and Uttar Pradesh governments out on their “lethargy” and “apathy”.
The statement comes as a shock to Indian citizens as the marble monument is a Wonder of the World and a must-see for all who come to India.
The judges also said that the monument could have solved the foreign exchange problem of the country if the governments had looked after it since it invited so many foreign tourists every day.
They went on to compare the Eiffel Tower to a TV tower, in establishing the superiority of the Taj, which is “more beautiful”. They court said, “Eighty million go to watch Eiffel Tower which looks like a TV Tower. Our Taj is more beautiful. If you had looked after it your foreign exchange problem would have been solved. Do you realise the loss caused to the country due to your apathy?”
The bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak made it a point to express its displeasure over the UP government’s failure to come out with a vision document to preserve and protect the Taj. It also asked for details on what the Centre has done and now, aims to do for the monument. The court has also questioned the chairman of the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ), which is a defined area of 10400 sq km around the Taj Mahal to protect the monument from pollution, about why the court’s ban on the expansion of industrial units in the zone was violated.
The Uttar Pradesh government defended itself saying it was also trying to take care of the environment around the historic monument so that it could be there for another 400 years and not just for a generation. The Centre also mentioned that IIT, Kanpur was conducting an assessment of air pollution level in and around the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) and they would give their report within four months.
However, the court shot back calling the initiatives vague or of no consequence. It said that steps taken by the authorities appear to have a “negative effect” on Taj. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court had blamed the Archeological Survey of India for failing to do what was required for the preservation of the iconic monument.
The marble monument has been long struggling against deterioration. It had started turning green and yellow due to pollution and the matter was brought to the court in May. Since then the court has tried to make several laws to preserve Taj. The latest one prohibits non-locals from offer namaz in the Taj premises.
The court said that as the issue was lingering on for a long time and since there were no concrete steps or reports to present, the case will now be heard on a day-to-day basis only from 31 July.