India’s Supreme Court asks for the top archaeological body to be “thrown out” to preserve the Taj Mahal
Kavita Majumdar | May 10, 2018, 08.03PM IST
- The court has asked the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) why the monument is changing its hue from a bright white to a dull brown and green.
- ASI has cited many reasons for this, including dirty socks, green slime emitted by millions of mosquito-like insects and algae.
- The ASI said the Taj Mahal floor was dirty at several places because many walking on it do not wear socks.
India’s Supreme Court is supremely annoyed with the caretakers of the Taj Mahal, who have not been able to prevent or combat the world heritage site’s discolouration. It has sought answers from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as to why the monument is changing its hue from a bright white to a dull brown and green.
The apex court has been hearing the case based on a plea filed by environmentalist M.C. Mehta, seeking protection of the Taj.
On May 1, the court asked the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government to consider hiring experts from outside if local experts could not get the job done. "We don't know whether you have or perhaps don't have the expertise. Even if you have the expertise, you are not utilising it," Justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta told the government. "Or perhaps you don't care," the bench added. “You all appear to be helpless. Money should not be the consideration. We might order you to hire experts from within India or abroad. We need to save it,” it further added.
ASI, the body entrusted with the upkeep of the 17th-century tomb, has cited many reasons for this, including dirty socks, green slime emitted by millions of mosquito-like insects and algae. ASI also suggested that water stagnation in the Yamuna river and high phosphorus levels on the riverbed made it a breeding ground for insects that formed patches on the walls of the Taj every summer.
On hearing ASI’s advocate A.D.N Rao’s comment that algae were a big source of the discolouration, Justice Madan B. Lokur asked how the algae reached the top parts of the Taj Mahal.
“It flew there,” the lawyer said.
“Can algae fly?” the judge asked.
The ASI also told the court that the Taj Mahal floor was dirty at several places because many walking on it do not wear socks. Apparently, the ASI provides clean socks only to VIPs when they tour the Taj Mahal.
Rao also told the bench, "I am not saying that there is no problem but we are trying our best."
Clearly miffed with the ASI's feeble attempt to provide a satisfactory explanation or a solution, the judges told the Additional Solicitor General A.N.S. Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre: “You (Centre) please consider if the ASI is needed there or not. The view of ASI is very clear from their submissions. They are not prepared to accept the problem… you have to remove the ASI because they are saying they are doing an excellent job. ASI will have to be thrown out of the picture.” To this, Nadkarni told the bench that the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) was already considering the recommendation to involve international experts in the monument’s conservation.
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