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"Can Algae Fly?" Asks Supreme Court, Upset Over Taj Mahal Changing Colour

NEW DELHI: The pristine white of the Taj Mahal in Agra is turning brown and green because of dirty socks and algae, the central archeological body ASI told the Supreme Court today.


The ASI or Archeological Survey of India, which is in charge of maintaining and repairing monuments, was rebuked by the court for failing to protect the Taj Mahal from discolouring and said: "The problem is that ASI is not willing to accept that there is a problem. This situation would not have arisen if the ASI had done its job."
The court also suggested to the centre that it should consider whether the ASI is needed at all for the world-renowned white marble mausoleum.
"The floor in parts of the Taj is dirty because of people walking there.  We don't give socks to everyone, only VIPs, the rest go in their own socks," said the archeological body.
The government suggested disposable socks, the kind provided to people visiting monuments abroad.
In a tart exchange with the judges, the ASI said algae were a "big problem" at the monument built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.
"But how has algae reached the top parts?" the court wondered.
"It flew there,"  replied the archeological survey, after which the court countered: "Can algae fly?"


Last week, the Supreme Court saw photographs of the 17th century stunner and expressed concern about pollution and what it believed is the apathy of government agencies.
"We don't know whether you have or perhaps don't have the expertise. Even if you have the expertise, you are not utilising it," Justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta told the government.
"Or perhaps you don't care," they added.
The Taj Mahal, which draws tourists from across the world, is considered one of the finest examples of Indo-Islamic architecture. It was described by poet Rabindranath Tagore as "one tear-drop . . . on the cheek of time."
But even the tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz, located in the lower levels of the mausoleum and opened to the public only once a year, are turning yellow and brown, experts fear.



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