Comparing Taj and the Eiffel Tower, SC said that while only 10 million foreign tourists had visited India last year, Paris was thronged by 89...

"Sheer lethargy and apathy" of the authorities was making India lose tourists and foreign exchange despite having the Taj Mahal, as the Eiffel Tower of Paris was drawing eight times more tourists than the iconic mausoleum in Agra, the Supreme Court said today.

"There is the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Perhaps it is nothing compared to Taj Mahal. 80 million people come there (Paris). This is eight time more than what we have. You can destroy the Taj, we don't want to do it," a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said.

During the hearing, the bench asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) A N S Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre, as to how many tourists come to India in a year.

When Nadkarni said 10 million tourists visited India in 2017, the bench observed, "we are happy to have only 10 million people." "There is sheer lethargy and apathy. People (abroad) are making money, but no one is bothered (here)," the apex court said while slamming the government and the authorities for their failure to take concrete steps to protect and preserve the Taj.

When the ASG said the Union Tourism Ministry could give more details about the tourists visiting India, the bench observed, "They will not bother. Why will they bother about tourists?" "Do you realise the loss to the country due to this sheer lethargy? Foreign exchange, infrastructure, everything is lost due to this. There is a loss to tourism. One monument can do it, but there is apathy," the bench said.

The apex court also asked the ASG, "Have you seen the Taj? Have you seen Eiffel Tower?" To this, the ASG said, "Taj obviously is much better".

Referring to the Eiffel Tower, the bench said in India, there were concerns about security, but in other countries, they have made towers like "TV towers" from where tourists can have a "bird's eye view" of the entire city. "We are obsessed with security. At every place (in foreign cities), you have towers to have bird's eye view of the city. But in India, you have security problems. There are no towers to look at the city," the bench said.

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