New Delhi: While expressing serious concern over the poor maintenance of the historical monument Taj Mahal in Agra, the Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for not taking effective steps to preserve and protect its pristine glory.
Last week a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta had expressed shock and dismay over the fading of colour of Taj Mahal and had asked the Centre and ASI to take the assistance of national/international experts to restore the heritage site to its glory.
During the resumed hearing on Wednesday, the bench was informed that insects are infecting Taj Mahal. The bench then asked the authorities, including the ASI, as to what steps they have taken to prevent this.
Justice Lokur observed, “The problem is that ASI is not willing to accept that there is a problem of fading of colour. This situation would not have arisen if the ASI had done its job properly. We are surprised with the way the ASI is defending itself. You (Centre) please consider if the ASI is needed there or not." The counsel for ASI told the court that the problem of insects was due to stagnation of water of river Yamuna.
Additional Solicitor General ANS. Nadkarni informed the bench that the court’s suggestion to engage international experts to save the monument from fading was being considered by the government Justice Lokur observed “Our orders from 1996 have still not been implemented.”
When the main petitioner MC Mehta told the court that the Centre was building several barrages and stopping water, justice Lokur asked the Centre to tell the court as to how many barrages it is planning to build. “Earlier there was some ecological flow, now it is a dead river” observed Justice Lokur.
On discolouring of Taj Mahal, counsel for the ASI told the court the floor in parts of the Taj is dirty because of people walking there.
“We don’t give socks to everyone, we provide socks only to those who don’t have. Algae is also a big problem” said the counsel. Nadkarni said, “We can consider how disposable socks are provided to visitors abroad.”
When Justice Lokur asked the counsel “How has the algae reached the top parts of Taj Mahal”, the counsel said, “It flew there.” The bench wondered whether algae could fly on its own.
In his fresh application Mehta alleged that due to water and air pollution, specific type of insect had started feeding on the boundary walls of Taj Mahal and that the colour of the marble was fading from pale yellow to brown. He showed recent pictures to highlight pollution of the Yamuna River flowing near the monument. He said the drains around the site are clogged and industries continue to operate though they were ordered to be closed.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing in July....