Supreme Court slams govt for ‘lethargy’ in protecting Taj Mahal

The Supreme Court said it would hear updates on the monument daily from July 31

The Supreme Court on Wednesday came down heavily on the Centre and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for not being able to protect the iconic Taj Mahal, issuing a warning it will "shut it down" and the authorities should "demolish or restore" the Mughal structure.

The Supreme Court was hearing a petition that calls for proper maintenance of the Taj, a 16th-century marble mausoleum that draws thousands of tourists from India and overseas each year and is a must-see on the itinerary of most dignitaries.

India's Supreme Court has criticised the government for what it calls a "failure" to protect the Taj Mahal.

A bench of justices M.B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta said no concrete steps have been taken by the government, despite a parliamentary standing committee report on Taj Mahal's protection.

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Taj Mahal is one of the best and most handsome tourist destinations of India, but the rise in air pollution in Agra is damaging the monumennt.

In May this year, the court had already instructed the government to seek foreign help to fix the "worrying change in colour" of the marble structure. It said a special committee has also been set up to find the source of pollution in and around the Taj Mahal, which will suggest measures to prevent it. "Do you realise the loss cost to the country due to your apathy?"

Only one monument, they said, could have solved the problem of the country. The bench asked the Centre to furnish details of what has been done and what is required to protect the monument.

The Supreme Court declared it would hear the matter daily from July 31, in further indication of the seriousness it attaches to the Taj's preservation.

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