NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday lashed out at the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government for the poor condition of the iconic Taj Mahal. Asserting that the governments were not taking proper steps to preserve the Taj Mahal, the court asked them to "either preserve Taj Mahal, demolish it."
The court observed that its orders are not being complied with and expressed displeasure at the Uttar Pradesh government's failure to come out with a vision document to protect the Taj Mahal. A bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak termed it as "sheer lethargy" on the part of the authorities.
"There is absolutely no willingness to protect the Taj Mahal. Taj Mahal has to be protected. Either we will shut it down or you demolish or restore it," the bench observed.
The court said the Taj Mahal is more beautiful than the Eiffel Tower and could have solved the country's foreign exchange problem. "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?," observed the bench.
The Uttar Pradesh government had earlier told the bench that it would place before the court a draft of vision document on protection and preservation of the Taj Mahal. It has also said it was also trying to take care of the environment around the structure so that the historic monument could be there for another 400 years and not just for a generation.
The bench has told the Centre to furnish full details of the steps taken and action it intends to take for protecting the Taj Mahal when in the next hearing of the case on July 31. The case will have a hearing on day-to-day basis.
It has also sought personal appearance of the chairman of Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) -- a 10,400 sq km area spread over the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur in Rajasthan -- to explain violation of its orders prohibiting expansion of industrial units in the zone.
The court has been hearing a plea filed by environmentalist MC Mehta seeking protection of the Taj from the ill-effects of polluting gases and deforestation in and around the area.