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03 Jan 2018

40,000 visitor-cap at Taj Mahal proposed, but will it help?

Environmental pollution around the Taj Mahal has taken a toll on the monument. Protective measures haven't borne fruit.

To prevent further damage as well as to ensure tourists' safety, the number of daily Indian visitors might be capped at 40,000, subject to the culture ministry's approval.

However, there'll be no cap on foreign visitors.

Currently, daily visitors go up to 70,000 on many days.

In context

Protecting the Taj Mahal by capping visitors
What's happening to the Taj will shock you


What's happening to the Taj will shock you

Almost two decades ago, authorities noticed the Taj's signature white marble turning yellow.

There were several factors: vehicles, factories and population in the vicinity have increased steeply. There's illegal mining in the Aravallis and dust-laden winds from Rajasthan.

Wood-burning crematoriums nearby only added to the problem.

There were man-made factors too: Agra burns 24% of the total municipal solid waste generated daily.

Days ago, there was a stampede at an entry gate

Environmental concerns are just one aspect: managing a high number of visitors becomes very difficult too. Last week, five people were injured in a stampede at the entry gates. Two months ago, the CISF, which handles security, had requested crowd control measures.

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The new capping scheme that ASI has proposed

The ASI now wants Indian visitors capped at 40,000 daily, including free entry for under-15 children who would be given "zero-charge tickets".

20,000 visitors would be allowed in the first slot (sunrise to 12pm) and another 20,000 in the next (12pm till sunset).

Prices would be hiked from Rs. 40 to Rs. 50. There would be separate Rs. 100 tickets for the main crypt.

But there are questionable relaxations


But there are questionable relaxations

There would be no cap on Rs. 1,000 tickets meant for foreigners, which means Indians too can secure entry if they buy these.

Just 1.5 months ago, the SC had to lash out at UP and refuse, once again, to let it construct a multi-level parking lot near the Taj.

With such a lackadaisical attitude, will there be any productive result?

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