Pulling up Uttar Pradesh government for its adhocism towards protection of Taj Mahal, the Supreme Court on Friday directed it to formulate a pragmatic and futuristic policy to protect the monument saying that it belonged to people of the country and it must be preserved for at least couple of centuries.
A bench of justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta asked the government to involve people from civil society and experts concerned with cultural heritage to frame a road map for preservation of the monument and the area surrounding it.
“You should have a broader vision and policy to make sure that Taj Mahal remains there for centuries. Everybody needs to sit together to frame the policy. The monument needs to be protected not only for next 25-50 years but at least 400-500 years,” the bench said.
Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta and UP’s additional advocate general Aishwarya Bhati told the bench that the state government was committed to protect the monuments and a slew of measures had been taken by various authorities to control the pollution near Taj Mahal and to maintain ecological balance in surrounding area.
Mehta told the bench that polluting industries in Taj Trapazium Zone had switched over from coal/ coke to cleaner fuels like CNG and LPG and no construction zone had been declared within 500 meter radius of Taj Mahal. He said that commercial vehicles running in the city were being converted to CNG and interrupted power supply was being provided to discourage use of generators.
“An investment of Rs 23.34 crores is proposed to establish security and surveillance camera network in Taj Mahal premises and other parts of the city. Taj premises and other parts of the city will be monitored live from central control and command centre connected to network of CCTV surveillance cameras. The surveillance system will help in protecting Taj Mahal from threats like terrorist attacks,” Mehta said.
The Court, however, was not convinced and said that it was all adhoc measures taken by state as and when needs arose and there was no long-term plan. It granted the state eight week time to formulate a comprehensive plan for protection of Taj Mahal after the state informed the bench that it had approached School of Planning and Architecture seeking its help in preparing a vision document for preservation of Taj Mahal.
The state had told the Court that pollution level around Taj Mahal had remained almost constant in the last 15 years and the monument was completely safe. It, however, had admitted that quantity of Particulate Matter(PM)-10 at the monument was above the fixed standard.