Agra: BSP chief Mayawati is facing prosecution for the Taj corridor scam. But the corridor itself still occupies the banks of the Yamuna in Agra and is an ugly contrast to the splendour of the Taj.
Devastation on the banks of the river three years after Mayawati was caught devising an environmentally disastrous beautification plan. And now one can see what the Taj Mahal overlooks.
The corridor falls in the line of Shah Jahan 's vision – the man who loved the splendour of the monument would have seen from captivity in Agra fort.
Three years back the Uttar Pradesh government had ordered the construction of the corridor that resulted in the construction of the 20-feet high mound – a mix of concrete and sand on the river Yamuna.
The project was since shelved but what remains is the debris of a defunct project and the fading signs of the precincts of the heritage site.
There are no signs of the Yamuna. Most of it has been filled up. And what remains is a half dried stinking drain full of the city's wastes.
Polythene and plastic wastes have choked the water body. Local residents use it as a grazing ground for their cattle, also where the animals can have a clean up.
The mound itself provides proof of the Taj corridor project. Broken rock and sand from the site work is everywhere in the wild growth. On the sides are the remains of the wall of the corridor project. In three years red tape rolled out by the bureaucracy in Lucknow and Delhi has blocked a cleaning drive.
ASI UP tourism DG C Babu Rajeev says, “The court had told us to green the area but we told them that we have no manpower to do that. The court now has to get the forest department to do the job. We can only help in advising on what trees should be planted.''
The Taj riverfront forms the buffer zone for the world heritage sites of both the Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal.
The riverfront comes under the jurisdiction of the ASI. The Supreme Court had told the ASI to green the area. UNESCO guidelines for World Heritage Sites say that maintenance of buffer zones is compulsory and any violation can amount to a disqualification – but little of that matters.
UP tourism Joint Director D K Burman says, “It isn't just one department's job. It’s a national issue. And in Agra we need a lot of permissions to do anything. It is not easy.''
With no solution in sight, the eyesore has permanently scarred the surroundings of the monument. Somebody will have to do the clean up – if for nothing then to keep Shah Jahan's picture of love alive in its glory.