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Union government must spring to action, Supreme Court must keep up pressure

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The Supreme Court’s observation that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), and by implication, the Government of India and Uttar Pradesh, have failed in their duty to protect and preserve the Taj Mahal is a major embarrassment for the two governments. An ASI report blaming algae and stagnating water in the Yamuna River, and the consequent breeding of insects during summer months which it concludes is responsible for the discolouration of the Taj, irked the judges.

The Taj Mahal. (AP photo)

Unwilling to accept these arguments, the Supreme Court said: “ This situation would not have arisen if ASI had done its job.” The court has now sought the government’s view on removing ASI from the scene and engaging private national and international conservation experts.  The judges have given voice to citizens concerns about the deterioration of the marble that gives Taj its timeless beauty. “We must protect our history. We owe it to our history,” they said.

While the Supreme Court keeps up its pressure on the government, it must allow the government the liberty to frame an appropriate scheme. Too often, governments are unhappy with judicial overreach into its policy turf and judicial orders are deliberately flouted. The condition of the Yamuna river and the proliferation of polluting industries around the Taj lie beyond ASI’s ambit.

The Japan-funded Yamuna Action Plan, activities of the Union environment and water resources ministries, and the UP industries department, need reviewing. Blaming ASI alone is pointless. The success of the Yamuna Biodiversity Park in north Delhi, a small area where the Yamuna runs clean and odourless and has become a habitat for migratory birds, can be examined. The conservation of Taj requires interventions at the highest levels, including the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Secretariat. Without urgent action, we are in danger of losing the most beautiful monument that history has bequeathed us.

Read: Archaeological Survey of India failed, explore tasking Taj Mahal upkeep to another body, SC tells Centre

 

Updated: May 10, 2018 — 6:19 am

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