SC slams UP for draft vision document on Taj

SC slams UP for draft vision document on Taj

The Supreme Court on Thursday lashed out at the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government on their efforts for the preservation of Taj Mahal, saying it has turned out to be a comedy show and it seems the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta questioned the UP government for filing a draft report of the vision document on protection and preservation of iconic Taj Mahal, wondering if the court was supposed to vet it.

"Why have you given a draft plan? Are we supposed to vet it for you? Is it our job to vet it," the bench asked the counsel appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government.

The court said it was "surprising" that the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), responsible for the protection of the 17th-century monument, was not consulted in framing the draft report.

During the hearing, the bench asked Attorney General K K Venugopal whether the Centre or the authorities concerned had submitted the management plan on Taj Mahal to Unesco's World Heritage Centre in Paris.

"What will happen if Unesco says that we will withdraw the World Heritage tag of the Taj Mahal," the bench asked.

Venugopal said the Taj Mahal was one of the seven wonders of the world and it would be a "great, great embarrassment" for the country if the World Heritage tag of the historic monument was withdrawn.

The apex court also asked the AG which department of the Centre and the state government was responsible for maintenance of the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ). It is surprising that the TTZ authority has done nothing since it was set up in 1996.

TTZ is an area of about 10,400 sq km spread over the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur district of Rajasthan.

The court put the matter for consideration on August 28 by directing the state government to supply the draft report to a panel of conservation experts, including INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage), for their comments.

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