The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) wants to limit visits to the Taj Mahal to “a maximum of three-four hours” as part of its efforts to ensure better crowd management.
The ASI’s counsel, A D N Rao, informed the Supreme Court about the new proposed norms on Monday, when the bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur sought details about crowd management inside the monument.
“How are you going to control the crowd inside Taj? There are a lot of people inside the monument at the same time,” the bench, also comprising Justice C Nagappan, asked Rao.
The ASI’s lawyer responded that there was already a proposal to streamline crowd management inside the monument. “We acknowledge the problem of too many people present at the same time to see the Taj. That is why we are contemplating limited duration of stay for every tourist. There are many visitors who take tickets at 7 in the morning and stay till the monument closes for public viewing,” responded Rao.
He added that the ASI has decided to issue tickets in different colours, with each colour defining a specific session and duration. “Every session will have tickets in a particular shade. We want to limit the duration of stay to a maximum of three-four hours. With every tourist holding a ticket of a particular shade, it would be convenient to segregate them on the basis of permissible duration of their stay,” he said. Rao informed the bench that the proposal was being seriously considered and was likely to be finalised soon.
Meanwhile, he requested the court to allow the ASI to conduct five sessions of 45 minutes each for sightseeing inside Taj precincts.
Currently, there are eight session of 30 minutes each, which, Rao said, was not sufficient to give visitors satisfaction of having seen the monument.
The court’s query came after advocate Ajay Agarwal moved an application, seeking directions to the ASI for letting visitors view Taj from a closer point. This, Rao said, may hamper the beauty of the monument and he added that a scientific process had prescribed the distance from which the Taj could be viewed without affecting its visual aspect.
The apex court is hearing 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 maintaining adequate green cover.