the taj ‘vision’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 01 Dec 2018 12:05:35

THE honourable Supreme Court’s insistence on bringing the Vision Document on the iconic Taj Mahal into public domain certainly demonstrates its concern for the protection and preservation of the great structure with historical importance. True, the vision document now under preparation by the Delhi School of Planning and Architecture (DSPA) need not be kept under wraps, and the Uttar Pradesh Government also has not talked about it being a secret document. A lot of activity is taking place around the idea of Taj Mahal’s protection and preservation. The Ahmedabad-based Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, too, has been asked to prepare a report on improving Taj Mahal’s condition. All this indicates that in due course of time, some sensible action-plan may emerge to ensure retention of Taj Mahal’s glory. 

Some time ago, the honourable Supreme Court had expressed its exasperation over the manner in which the authorities were handling the Taj challenge. In that mood, it went to the extent of suggesting that Taj Mahal be torn down if the authorities could not protect its grandeur and glamour. Let alone that rather uncalled for remark, the Supreme Court’s irritation did demonstrate its serious concern for Taj Mahal. Now also, it is monitoring regularly what is being done to protect and preserve Taj Mahal. This is a heartening concern, we must say.

Taj Mahal is not just a heritage site due to its historicity; it has assumed an iconic nature because of its design-excellence. It is one of the finest expressions of complete symmetry with even a grain of monotony. Keep watching Taj Mahal for hours from any angle, and the symmetry fills the eye with an unusual coolness. The principle of symmetry has been one of the hallmarks of architecture the world over. But in the case of Taj Mahal, the makers have achieved a complete symmetry without allowing any boredom to it. That is the reason why countless millions of tourists are attracted to Taj Mahal every year.

But for the past some years, Taj Mahal is confronted with the ugly reality of having its marbled beauty spoilt, thanks to massive pollution that has engulfed the thousands of square of kilometers of area in the Delhi-Agra region. The sense of agelessness that Taj Mahal conveyed is now being assailed by polluting forces. Its marble is losing its white sheen and a yellowish taint is appearing all over, making everybody feel sad. This deterioration has now become a matter of global concern, which is reflected in the Supreme Court’s edginess over the issue.

However, the situation has far from just physical application of cleansers to Taj Mahal’s surface. The beautiful structure is being assailed continuously by polluted air from all sides 24x7 for years. So, when the authorities grapple with the challenge, they will have to think about a larger action-plan not just to cleanse Taj Mahal physically, but also to ensure that the environmental pollution in the entire area is brought under reasonable control. The Supreme Court is considering possibilities of declaring the entire Agra city as heritage area and then having it cleaned up. The Government of Uttar Pradesh is worried by the wider ramification of any such move. Eventually, however, some reasonable way out will emerge out of the concern.

Yet, it must be stated again and again that even that move may prove to be piecemeal since the problem of pollution that has hit the vast area in the Delhi-Agra region will still persist.
The best way to tackle the problem is to start treating Taj Mahal as a centre of a grand action-plan that will tackle the dangerous and cancerous pollution in the region as a national challenge in which not just one State but also other States and the Centre are parties with all their collective prowess and wisdom. It will be too big a project, of course, that will require a massive coordination and collaboration whose scale and style can be a model for the whole world to watch and possibly replicate in the global fight against pollution. Considering the larger picture, this appears to be a reasonable way to face the problem head on.