On July 26, the Supreme Court pulled up the Central and Uttar Pradesh governments for failing to protect the Taj Mahal. A bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta asked what would happen if UNESCO withdraws its world heritage tag.
According to The Indian Express, the bench asked Attorney General K. K. Venugopal, “Have you been filing management plan (of Taj Mahal) before the world heritage centre of UNESCO? This is not being filed. What will happen if the UNESCO says that we will withdraw the world heritage tag of Taj Mahal.” To this, Venugopal replied that it will “be great, great embarrassment for the country” and “we cannot afford to get it removed from UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites”.
A Taj Trapezium Zone authority was set up in 1996 under the state government to curb pollution in a 10,400 square km area spread across six districts. But after the court heard the authority blame their performance on a manpower crunch, the judges told the authority’s top boss K. Ram Mohan Rao that the organisation was a “flop”.
“Is it our fault? What is this ‘tamasha’ (drama) going on. It is nothing less than a ‘tamasha’. They are saying they do not have staff. Will the Supreme Court recruit staff for them?” Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta shot back. “You should have a comedy show channel. It is becoming a joke,” the judges said harshly when Mr Rao said he had already sent three reminders to the government for staff. The court, however, also ordered CM Yogi Adityanath’s government to explain the delay.
Supreme Court had earlier on July 11, said that “there is absolutely no willingness to protect the Taj Mahal. It has to be protected. Either we will shut it down or you demolish or restore it.”
The court also drew a parallel between the Taj Mahal and the Eiffel Tower of Paris to say that the mausoleum was perhaps more beautiful and yet did not attract many tourists. “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 Supreme Court, in the month of May, had observed that the Taj Mahal which was earlier yellow, was now turning brown and green. Since then, it has continuously expressed deep concerns regarding its maintenance.