SC judge to CJI: Remove cremation site, save Taj

Fumes from pyres may affect the monument’s white marble.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published:November 16, 2015 12:39 am

A SUPREME Court judge has sought the intervention of the Chief Justice of India and the apex court to ensure that the Taj Mahal is not damaged by smoke released from a nearby cremation ground.

Justice Kurian Joseph has written to CJI H L Dattu, pointing out that the Taj is under threat from pollution due to burning pyres and that the SC should intervene to protect the iconic monument.

The letter, dated October 1, will be taken up on Monday by a special bench headed by Justice T S Thakur, which has been issuing a string of directives in a PIL filed by environmentalist M C Mehta in 1984, seeking the upkeep of the Taj Trapezium Zone, a demarcated area around the monument, and to maintain adequate green cover.

Sources said Justice Joseph’s letter was tagged with the PIL after it was forwarded by the CJI’s office to the Court Registry.

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Justice Joseph’s letter, according to sources, stated that he along with his family had visited the Taj in September when the cremation ground caught his attention. The judge said he was concerned that fumes from pyres may affect the monument’s white marble.

Justice Joseph stated he was told by some officials that the crematorium, nestled between the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, sees at least 20-25 cremations every day. He sought directives to the Agra administration to shift the cremation ground away from the Taj.

In May, the ASI had urged the Agra administration to consider moving the cremation site,as the smoke from the site was causing yellowing of the surface of the Taj. A high-level panel led by environmentalist S Varadrajan had earlier suggested shifting the ground.

Agra Divisional Commissioner Pradeep Bhatnagar told The Indian Express the relocation was a “highly sensitive” issue as it involved “religious sentiments”. “The crematorium is nearly 200 years old and it is not easy to relocate it,” he said. Bhatnagar said the administration is making alternative arrangements by upgrading an electric crematorium nearby.

ASI deputy superintending archaeological engineer, Agra Circle, M C Sharma said he was “not updated” on the current status of the ground. “There was some issue related to pollution, which was raised some time back,” he said.

A local BJP leader said political parties and “pro-Hindu” groups had protested when the administration first mooted the idea of relocating. “The administration was going to move the crematorium on a court directive in 1990s. But political parties and religious groups protested. It should not be relocated,” said BJP Agra Mahanagar president Nagendra Dube. (With ENS Lucknow)

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  1. V
    Venkatraman Shenoy
    Nov 16, 2015 at 9:51 am
    If the crematorium is more than 200 years old, the damage to Taj cannot be due to smoke and fumes from the crematorium, or else the Taj would have been destro a long while ago. Some years earlier, there was a demand to shift the Agra Refinery, whose polluting capacity was a hundred times more than the crematorium. Has the refinery been shifted?
    1. A
      Nov 16, 2015 at 9:32 pm
      Now Modi will call it Judicial Activism.
    2. P
      Nov 16, 2015 at 8:15 pm
      why doesn't govt create awareness about electric crematorium if it really worries about climate change. and shifting crematorium cannot hurt anyone sentiments.
      1. R
        Nov 16, 2015 at 7:46 pm
        It is Mathura refinery in Mathura NOT in Agra.
        1. S
          Nov 16, 2015 at 6:32 pm
          it is my freedom of expression that intolerance towards Hindus by justice Kurien
          1. V
            Nov 16, 2015 at 7:04 am
            Preserving a tomb is very important because crematorium has intolerant hindu's pyres that are being lit up and it is polluting the atmosphere and in any case who cares for Hindus because they are so intolerant and because minorities are scared and living under fear and because we have the secular govt. in UP and a communal govt. in the centre and because minorities rights are not safe and we can not speak against majority hindus and we minorities are oppressed and everyday there is a fear among minorities and also because BJP has lost Bihar election and it is a defeat for Narendra Modi and he is responsible for 2002 Gujarat riots and he is also respsonsible for making so many foreign tours and since India's pride it at stake if Taj mahal loses its beauty and this crematorium is so old but now it is polluting more because hindus are intolrant and nothing else is polluting the river Yamuna but crematorium is solely and hugely responsible for spoiling Taj Mahal beauty and majority hindus should have a bigger heart and they should understand the minorities and accept them w heartedly and should help minorities because they are living under constant fear and hindus are so intolerant.
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