Restore Taj Mahal or we will shut it down: Supreme Court’s warning to Centre

The Supreme Court on Wednesday slammed the Centre and its authorities for their “lethargy” in taking steps to protect the Taj Mahal, dubbing the issue of preserving the historic medieval structure a “hopeless cause”.

The Supreme Court was hearing a petition that calls for proper maintenance of the Taj, a 16th-century marble mausoleum that draws thousands of tourists from India and abroad each year and is a must-see on the itinerary of most dignitaries.

“Either we will shut down the Taj or you demolish or restore it,” the court reportedly told the government. The apex court also expressed anguish over the Uttar Pradesh government failure to come out with a vision document to preserve and protect the Taj Mahal.

The Taj “is more beautiful than the Eiffel Tower” and could have solved the country’s foreign exchange problem, the judges noted.

“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,” said the judges.

A bench of Justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said no concrete steps have been taken by the government, despite a parliamentary standing committee report on Taj’s protection. The Centre told the bench that Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur was assessing air pollution level in and around the mausoleum and will give its report in four months.

The Supreme Court had earlier this year blamed the Archeological Survey of India for its failure to take appropriate steps to protect and preserve the iconic monument built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

The bench said it will hear the matter on a day-to-day basis from July 31.

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