New Delhi, Aug 28 (IANS) “If Taj Mahal goes, you will not get a second chance,” the Supreme Court said on Tuesday while urging the authorities to see the larger perspective while dealing with the issue of the monument’s protection in Agra.
A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Deepak Gupta asked the authorities to prepare a Vision Document on protection and preservation of the Taj taking into account suggestion of experts and issues like pollution in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ).
TTZ is an area of about 10,400 sq km spread over the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur district of Rajasthan.
The court asked Meenakshi Dhote of Delhi’s School of Architecture and project coordinator of the Vision Document to “go slowly but steadily” and prepare the document “keeping the larger picture in mind along with suggestions of experts”.
The bench asked Dhote to inform the court if she faced any problems.
The court also asked environmentalist M.C. Mehta, the petitioner, to give his suggestion within a week.
During the hearing, the Centre told the court that it had communicated to the Uttar Pradesh government to send a proposal to declare Agra as a heritage city.
The Centre also told the court that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was in the process of preparing a heritage plan for the 17th century Taj Mahal and it would be filed with the UNESCO within three months.
The bench asked the Uttar Pradesh government to keep in mind the pollution level, condition of Yamuna river, restaurants and hotels and industries in the TTZ area.
“How many industries are there? Several things have come up. Are you looking into it? You have to see what’s the damage done by restaurants, hotels and whether to continue them or not.”
Dhote said they were given an incorrect list of industries.
At this, the bench remarked: “See, you (Uttar Pradesh government) gave wrong information. So draft vision document is not correct. We are concerned about this.”
Recently, the Uttar Pradesh government submitted its first draft report of its Vision Document on protection and preservation of the Taj to the court, suggesting that the entire Taj Mahal precinct should be declared a no-plastic zone and all polluting industries in the region must be closed.
It suggested that the use of bottled water inside the monument should be prohibited.
For not being able to protect the iconic Taj, which is turning yellow, the bench had even asked the Centre and Uttar Pradesh governments to “shut it down” or “demolish or restore” the Mughal structure.
The court has been hearing a plea filed by M.C. Mehta seeking protection of the Taj from the ill-effects of polluting gases and deforestation in and around the area.
The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on September 25.