“No construction higher than 25m can come up behind the Taj Mahal so the panoramic view of the monument is visible without an obstruction in the background,” Dr Rajendra Pensiya, vice chairperson of the Agra Development Authority, told TOI. “The decision was taken in a recent board meeting after a survey in March last year by the ADA engineering team,” said Amit Gupta, divisional commissioner, Agra, who is the ADA chairperson. The body had received several complaints about impeded views of the monument.
Four towers, about 50-60m high, were visible behind the Taj — three on the west side and one on the east. “One of these mobile towers was demolished. The height of two others was reduced to 25m. One high-tension electric pole remains on the east side. We are in the process of moving it, but it will take time,” Pensiya said. There is just one highrise, by which they mean a building taller than four floors, in the backdrop.
The administration is also considering the trees in the background as obstruction. “There are several old trees which are 50m high but cutting them is not possible because they fall under the Taj Trapezium Zone (a buffer area marked out to save the monument from pollution). To cut trees under the zone, we need permission from the Supreme Court,” said Pensiya.
In 2013, a four-day convention of Unesco experts on visual integrity was held in Agra. “The ASI is bound to ensure the visual integrity mandate of Unesco sites, including the Taj Mahal, followed by the 2013 convention,” Rajiv Saxena, vice president of the Tourism Guild Agra, said. Former Agra circle senior conservation assistant Munazzar Ali told TOI that ASI norms stipulate a ban on construction in a 100-m radius around monuments and a 15-m height cap for construction in a 300-m radius.
ASI superintending archaeologist (Agra circle) Vasant Swarnkar said it was a long-pending discussion about the view of the monument. “This is a welcome step.”