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Millennium Post

Taj in danger

While experts deliberate on policy frameworks to sustain and promote the visual integrity of world heritage monuments at the ongoing UNESCO meet in the Taj city, questions are being raised about the integrity of Agra’s heritage structures.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has failed abjectly in controlling the spread of encroachments, which threaten even historical monuments. Almost all Mughal monuments here have now been dwarfed by encroachments. While restricting space and cluttering up and thus destroying the beauty of the historical buildings, these encroachments now have reached such levels of proliferation that the very survival of some monuments is now at stake. The Taj Mahal, surrounded by
mohallas
of the Taj Ganj locality, has been able to breathe easy because of the Supreme Court judgments seeking its conservation; international concern for its safety has also aided the cause of the preservation of the Taj Mahal. Lesser monuments, however, have not experienced such luck. Delhi Gate, close to the Raja Mandi station, finds itself threatened by new construction. The district authorities have failed to act against the encroachers.

The Fatehpur Sikri complex continues to be threatened by the illegal activities of the mining mafia, which has been carrying on operations without fear, even though the Supreme Court has given a categorical directive to district authorities to stop mining in the area. The ASI is proving helpless and unequal to the challenge posed by a spate of illegal construction around protected monuments in Agra, many residents say. Though it has been regularly shooting off letters to the Agra Development Authority pointing out how the Monuments Protection Act 1958, was being flagrantly violated, it has elicited no response.

The ASI has circulated a list of about 50 monuments in Agra which come under the purview of the Monuments Protection Act. The Agra Development Authority (ADA) is responsible for ensuring there were no new constructions around these buildings. ADA authorities, however, privately confess that demolition of all illegal structures was beyond their capacity. Political pressures would prevent any major offensive against encroachers.

The city of the Taj has numerous monuments which come under the protected list. Over the years, because of governmental indifference and corrupt practices, no action has been taken against people who built houses and places of worship around these  monuments. (IANS)
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