"Why is the Taj's colour changing?" — SC asks ASI

Henrietta Strickland
May 10, 2018

The Supreme Court on Wednesday (May 9) asked the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) about the status of the directions given by it on the previous hearing and whether it was heeded or not.

Coming down heavily on the ASI, the court also said that the archaeological body should not be in charge of protecting the world-renowned white marble mausoleum since it is not ready to accept that there is a problem.

"This situation would not have arisen if the ASI had done its job".

The top court had expressed concern a week before over the changing colour of Taj and suggested the authorities to appoint global experts to look into the issue of protection and preservation of Taj Mahal.

The apex court asked, "But how has algae reached the top parts?" On the contrary, ASI who is looking after the preservation and protection of the monument defended that the monument is getting dirty due to the tourists walking on the floor. "We don't give socks to everyone, only those who don't have; the rest go in their own socks", the agency told the court. We are surprised with the way the ASI is defending itself.

During the hearing, the government suggested disposable socks available overseas to people visiting monuments.

According to the ASI, stagnation of water in the Yamuna and high content of phosphorus in the riverbed has become a breeding ground for insects that form patches on the walls of Taj Mahal every summer.

Can algae fly? Do they have wings?

Following this, the court countered, "Can algae fly?" Not convinced with his submission, the bench told the Centre, "You need to take ASI away from Taj". The discussion in the court ranged from the commitment or the lack of it on the part of the authorities to protect the monument to getting disposable socks from overseas. We might order you to hire experts from within India or overseas. Even if you have the expertise, you are not utilising it.

Since 2015, the body, the Archaeological Survey of India, has overseen a restoration project at the Taj Mahal, with workers scaling scaffolding to remove grime from the 17th-century tomb, which was built by the Muslim emperor Shah Jahan for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

Appearing for the UP government, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the bench that a vision document on protection and preservation of Taj and environment in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) was under preparation and would be finalised by July - the TTZ is spread over 10,400 sq km, across the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur in Rajasthan.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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