Supreme Court Seeks ASI’s Response on Taj Mahal Preservation Plan

The Supreme Court has called for the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to provide its input on a vision document aimed at preserving the Taj Mahal and its surrounding environment. The directive came during a hearing on Monday, as the court addressed several pleas concerning the iconic monument and its vicinity.

The vision document, developed by the School of Planning and Architecture in collaboration with the Uttar Pradesh government, seeks to protect the Taj Mahal and the broader Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ). The TTZ, a 10,400 square kilometer trapezoid-shaped area, encompasses parts of Uttar Pradesh and the Bharatpur district of Rajasthan.

Justices Abhay S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan expressed concern that the vision document was prepared without the consultation of the ASI, the body responsible for the maintenance of the Taj Mahal. They stated, “We would like to know the response of ASI on the vision document,” highlighting the need for expert advice in conservation efforts.

The Supreme Court has been closely monitoring the situation to ensure the protection of the Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site constructed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in 1631 in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Additionally, the court is addressing a plea to grant Agra the status of a World Heritage City and has asked the Centre to file its response within six weeks.

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Another significant concern discussed was the state of the Yamuna River near the Taj Mahal. The justices emphasized the urgent need for clearing silt, garbage, and sludge from the riverbed—a task that requires continuous effort. They instructed the Centre, the Uttar Pradesh government, and the Agra Development Authority (ADA) to report on the actions taken so far and clarify which agency will be responsible for this cleanup moving forward.

All parties involved, including the Centre, the Uttar Pradesh government, and the ADA, have been ordered to submit detailed affidavits by July 11, outlining their respective roles and the progress made in these conservation and cleaning efforts.

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