On Wednesday the Apex Court criticised the government over its dispassion to address the deteriorating condition of one of the seven wonder of the world, Taj Mahal.
According to The Hindu, 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, which is a 10,400 sq.km trapezium-shaped area covering the five districts of the Agra region was still entertaining applications from industrialists to expand their factories into the protected zone despite a long-standing moratorium from the Supreme Court. The TTZ comprises over 40 protected monuments including three World Heritage Sites — the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
The judges raised a point that the Eiffel tower has over eighty million visitors every year, while Taj Mahal has only five million, despite being more beautiful. The Court blamed the state government of Uttar Pradesh that, due to its lack of interest in preserving the 16th century monument, the country is losing out on foreign exchange.
The Court warned the Central and State government that it will shut down the monument or they can either demolish or restore it.
According to Scroll, the Centre told the court that Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, is assessing the level of air pollution near the monument and will submit its report within four months. It said a special committee has been set up to find the source of pollution in the area.
The Court called the efforts of the government “vague” to prevent the damage that is caused to the nation’s pride. The court will hold a hearing on a day-to day basis starting from July 31.
The State government’s recent decision to remove the heritage site out of its tourism department booklet has been met with criticism. This may increase the lack of attention and hasten the deterioration of the monument.
Why is the Taj Mahal in danger?
One of the Seven Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal is located in an area which is reeling under pollution. River Yamuna runs alongside the monument. According to the environmental activists, in Agra, Taj Mahal is threatened by the depletion of water levels of the river, as the foundations are made out of wood and it is essential to be kept moist to avoid subsiding.
The river flows downstream from Delhi and is the most polluted in its Delhi segment. Lack of sewerage treatment plants has led to the massive pollution of the river.
Environmentalists say that bugs from the polluted river are a major cause for the damage. These bugs excrete a green substance (in the colour of the algae they breed on) on the marble walls of the mausoleum thus disgracing the appearance of the monument.
“Fifty-two drains are pouring waste directly into the river and just behind the monument, Yamuna has become so stagnant that fish that earlier kept insect populations in check are dying. This allows pests to proliferate in the river” Mr. D.K Joshi an environmental activist told BBC.
Significant level of sulphur and nitrogen oxide in the air, due to nearby industries and vehicle emissions causes acid rain. The rain has over time turned the color of the Taj from white to yellow as the acid erodes the stone. Measures have been taken to reduce the automobile pollution by preventing any motor vehicles within 500 meters of Taj Mahal but the condition still remains critical.
The Taj Mahal is part of our identity as a country and it is imperative that efforts are taken to protect the monument. Attracting public focus on the issue is necessary in order to push the government into action.