How pollution, insects are threatening Taj Mahal, and what Supreme Court has said

Source: The post is based on the article “How pollution, insects are threatening Taj Mahal, and what Supreme Court has said” published in Indian Express on 29th September 2022.

What is the News?

The Supreme Court has directed the Agra Development Authority to stop all commercial activities within a 500-meter radius of the Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What is the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ)?

Since the 1970s, there have been growing concerns that emissions from industries near the Taj Mahal are causing its once-gleaming white marble surface to discolour, turning it yellow and black in some places. 

In order to protect the monument from pollution, the central government demarcated an area of 10,400 sq km around the Taj, called the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ).

The TTZ comprises monuments including three World Heritage Sites, the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. 

In 1996, the Supreme court in a landmark judgment (M.C. Mehta vs Union Of India & Ors),  banned the use of coal/ coke in industries located in the TTZ with a mandate for switching over from coal/ coke to natural gas, and relocating them outside the TTZ or shutting down. 

Did the condition of the Taj Mahal improve after this?

In 2010, a report submitted by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) found that despite various government schemes to reduce pollution in the TTZ area, the iconic Taj Mahal continued to face a threat from water and air pollution.

What was the Supreme reaction to the condition of the Taj Mahal?

In 2018, the Supreme Court criticized the UP government for not producing a vision document that would outline the steps it would take to protect the monument.

It also questioned how the TTZ authorities were considering proposals by several industrialists to expand their units in the demarcated area, despite an “ad hoc Moratorium” imposed by the court.

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