NEW DELHI: Questioning the maintenance of the Taj Mahal, the Supreme Court on Thursday lashed out at the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government directing them to let the court know who is responsible for the protection of the iconic structure. It also said that the level is seriousness that the authorities are showing to preserve the Taj is akin to a comedy show.
"Let us know by Monday that who is responsible for the protection of Taj Mahal, the Centre, state government, Pollution Control Board or the Archaeological Survey of India. We are surprised to see that the left hand doesn't know what right hand is doing," the apex court told the government.
The Uttar Pradesh government filed a draft report of the vision document on protection and preservation of the Taj Mahal but faced the ire of the court. Questioning the logic behind submitting a draft report, the SC asked if the government expected the court to vet it for them.
"Why have you given a draft plan? Are we supposed to vet it for you? Is it our job to vet it?" the bench asked the counsel appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government.
The apex court said it was "surprising" that the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), responsible for the protection of the 17th-century monument, was not consulted in framing the draft report.
The apex court also asked the AG which department of the Centre and the state government was responsible for maintenance of 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. It lashed out at the Agra District Magistrate asserting that there were a lot of industries around the marble mausoleum which are contributing to a rise in pollution but the DM has not taken any action yet.
During the hearing, the bench asked Attorney General KK Venugopal whether the Centre or the concerned authorities had submitted the management plan on Taj Mahal to UNESCO's World Heritage Centre in Paris. "What will happen if UNESCO says that we will withdraw the World Heritage tag of the Taj Mahal?" the bench asked Venugopal.
Responding to the query, the attorney general said the Taj Mahal was one of the seven wonders of the world and it would be a "great, great embarrassment" for the country if the World Heritage tag of the historic monument was withdrawn.
(Reporter inputs from Mahesh Gupta)