The Draft Vision Document on Taj Mahal found no takers in the Supreme Court as the Bench pursuing the cause of saving the only Indian entry in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites found to its shock that the mammoth exercise undertaken by the Uttar Pradesh Government did not involve one of the key players in the upkeep of the Taj — the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Directing a copy of the Vision Document to be supplied to the ASI, the Bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta asked the authority to respond on the report within a month and propose immediate steps required to preserve the ancient monument. The court asked the ASI to involve private agencies such as INTACH, ICOMOS, and Aga Khan Foundation to know their views in this regard before the matter is heard next on August 28.
Reading the Vision Document prepared by the Tourism Department of the UP Government, the court was confused as every time it took up the matter related to Taj Mahal or the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ), an affidavit was filed either by the ASI, or Ministry of Environment, or Ministry of Home Affairs or the State Government. “Somebody has to take responsibility for preserving the Taj Mahal,” said the Bench, as it directed Attorney General KK Venugopal who appeared for the Centre and the UP Government to state by Monday the names of the concerned authority/person both at the Centre and the State level to be held responsible for taking decisions with regard to TTZ development and Agra development as envisaged in the Vision Document. For the monument, the ASI owned up responsibility.