New Delhi,Prabhati Nayak Mishra: The Mughals built the Taj Mahal with just hammer and chisel but the Uttar Pradesh government has failed to build a proper road around the world-famous monument even with all the modern tools being at its disposal, the Supreme Court observed on Monday.
The court also directed the UP government and other authorities to consider shifting of a crematorium located near Taj Mahal to prevent smoke affecting the world heritage site. The sharp rebuke came as the top court was hearing a petition filed by the UP government seeking permission to build a cobbled stone road instead of a bitumen road near the monument. “Taj Mahal was built in the 17th century by hands, hammer and chisel. But your government can’t build a proper road with modern tools,” a bench headed by Justice T S Thakur said.
The UP government was arguing that bitumen roads add to pollution during summers. As per a study by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, cobbled stone roads which have a lifespan of 50 years, do not have this problem.
The bench also expressed displeasure over the quality of road being built near the monument and said there needs to be “finesse” in doing things as people from the world over came to see the Taj. “You are making road, you are not making Taj Mahal. Years ago, people with bare hands with chisel and hammer made a wonder of the world. Such was the craft at that time. Today, with all the facilities at hand, look at the work the contractors and engineers have done,” the bench said.
The bench also considered a letter written by Supreme Court judge Justice Kurien Joseph to Chief Justice of India pointing out that Taj was under threat from pollution due to smoke emanating from the crematorium.
The court noted that despite several previous orders to the Agra Nagar Nigam and Agra Development Authority “nothing meaningful” had been done and the public crematorium continues to be at present location resulting in possible damage to the historic monument.
Justice Joseph in his letter dated October 1 had said that there was a looming threat to the monument due to smoke and ash arising from the cremation ground. He said he along with his family had visited the Taj in September. During his visit, he noted that the emissions arising from the cremation ground may damage the monument’s white marble. Justice Joseph also proposed that the authorities be directed to relocate the crematorium to some other place in order to protect the site.