The Supreme Court today sought a detailed and comprehensive document to protect the medieval era monument Taj Mahal for at least the next 100 years. Terming as “ad hoc”, the measures enumerated by the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) authority in its affidavit, a bench headed by Justice M B Lokur said the document submitted was interim in nature and some long-term plan was needed for protection and preservation of the historical Mughal-era mausoleum. TTZ is an area of about 10,400 sq kms spread over the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur in Rajasthan. “What you (ASG) have submitted are ad hoc steps. What is required is a larger and broader perspective of the whole scenario. Everybody needs to sit together and come out with ways as to how the monument should be protected for the next generation,” the bench observed. The apex court said the members from the civil society including experts should be involved in devising a strategy to protect the Taj Mahal.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta placed an affidavit stating the measures to be taken for the protection and preservation of the Taj. He said a number of measures have been proposed including ban on construction activities within 500 metres from the monument, plying of only CNG vehicles near Taj, sufficient supply of electricity to discourage use of generator sets and complete prohibition of burning of waste and garbage. The top court posted the matter for hearing after eight weeks. On November 20, the apex court had rapped the Uttar Pradesh government for not coming out with a comprehensive policy to protect and preserve the beauty of Taj Mahal, saying “we need sustainable development”. The bench had also asked TTZ authority to explain why it was not holding meetings every two months as was expected.
On November 15, the apex court had directed the state to file a comprehensive policy with regard to pollution in TTZ and nearby areas to preserve the monument. It had taken strong exception to the state not filing a comprehensive policy before it despite assurances. The state had said that a policy has been prepared by the TTZ, which was an independent authority. It had earlier stayed its order directing demolition of a multi-level car parking being built near the Taj Mahal and asked the authorities to maintain status quo there.
Environmentalist M C Mehta, who had filed a plea seeking protection of the Taj from the ill-effects of polluting gases and deforestation in and around the area, had earlier told the bench that the TTZ was an “ecologically sensitive area” and the government should have come out with a comprehensive policy for preservation and protection of the Taj. The apex court, which is dealing with Mehta’s petition, has been monitoring development in the area to protect the Taj Mahal, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal in 1631. The mausoleum is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.