Dirty socks, algae behind Taj Mahal discolouration, ASI tells Supreme Court

Bench says the agency is not doing enough to preserve the monument

Updated - May 10, 2018 11:50 am IST

Published - May 09, 2018 01:37 pm IST - New Delhi

 In March this year, the apex court had asked the Uttar Pradesh government to place before it a draft of vision document on the protection and preservation of the Taj Mahal.

In March this year, the apex court had asked the Uttar Pradesh government to place before it a draft of vision document on the protection and preservation of the Taj Mahal.

Unwashed socks worn by visitors and rampant algae seem to turn the Taj Mahal from its natural white to yellow, brown and green, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), charged with the maintenance of the historic monument, told the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

But a Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta was not convinced, asking the ASI how algae managed to reach the top parts of the mausoleum where patches of discolouration were seen.

The court said the problem was not with algae but the fact that the ASI was unwilling to accept that they were not doing enough to conserve the monument.

The ASI said the numerous footfalls everyday had taken a toll on the Taj. It was not possible to distribute socks to all visitors. Many went wearing their own socks. The discussion in the court ranged from the commitment or the lack of it on the part of the authorities to protect the monument to getting disposable socks from abroad.

Poor upkeep

On May 1, petitioner and environmental lawyer M.C. Mehta handed over to the Bench photographs showing the discolouration on the pristine white of the Taj Mahal. Mr. Mehta told the court that the upkeep of the UNESCO World Heritage site was in shambles. River Yamuna, which used to flow nearby, had dried up. Encroachments and industries have cropped up in the neighbourhood of the white marble mausoleum. CCTVs hardly work.

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