Another Taj Mahal project runs into trouble with ASI

Another Taj Mahal project runs into trouble with ASI


Taj Mahal

The project, to build a ropeway, a suspension bridge across the Yamuna river and a giant ferris wheel for an aerial view of the Taj, was apparently drawn up by the Agra Development Authority (ADA) without seeking clearance from the ASI or the Supreme Court.

ASI superintending archaeologist A R Siddiqui said: “We are clear and categorical that we will not allow any such project in the vicinity of the Taj Mahal. Clear-cut guidelines and rules are there which we need to follow.

“They have not asked us for any clearance or no objection certificate. The ADA vice chairman even claimed that the DG ASI was in agreement with his projects,” he said.

ADA vice chairman Tanvir Zafar Ali announced plans for ropeways — from the 17th century Taj to the Mehtab Bagh across the river and another to Agra Fort. Preliminary studies and surveys have been carried out by experts of the Usha Breco group.

Tanvir Zafar Ali, while announcing the project, has also spoken about his discussions with Supreme Court amicus curiae Krishna Mahajan and his reported agreement to the ropeway.

However, Krishna Mahajan said: “Tanvir met me and I told him to get the Supreme Court clearance first and then talk about the project. I never agreed. I am in fact surprised how he has gone on record saying the Supreme Court would approve the project.”

ADA officials say the projects are needed to boost tourism. Only a small percentage of  tourists visiting the Taj go to other monuments in Agra, they maintain.

“Once you have a ropeway connecting monuments on the other bank of the river, tourists will not only save time and traffic snarls, but also enjoy the trip on a cable car,” said an official who was not willing to be identified.

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