Building bitumen-based roads around the Taj Mahal will harm the foundation of the beautiful monument, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has cautioned on July 15. ASI cautioned the Uttar Pradesh government against carrying out any such infrastructure development project around Taj Mahal. It contended that raising bitumen roads around the 17th century structure could lead to stagnation of water, affecting its foundation.
ASI has told the Supreme Court that if the continuous addition of layers of bitumen is not checked, the high level of road will become an eyesore in a few years. This will become a serious issue of visual integrity too. The stagnation of water in the forecourt will not only obstruct the easy flow of visitors but also affect the foundations of structures like dalans and main entrance gate located around the eastern forecourt of the structure), the ASI submitted in the Supreme Court.
In an affidavit, it sought specific modifications to the State government’s Urban conversation and Infrastructure Development project in the area around the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is located on the riverfront. Therefore, the area around the monument acts as a catchment and the rainwater of this area drains naturally towards the Taj complex.
While some portion of the run-off water is diverted through the available drains, some gets diverted through the southern, western and eastern gateways into the forecourt of the Taj Mahal complex and inundates it. This problem is further complicated by the rising levels of the eastern and western approach roads.
The level of the road is being raised every year by adding thick courses of bitumen. As on today, the forecourt is about 75 cm below the eastern approach road. The roads are sloped to match the inner levels of the complex. This facilitates easy flow of surface run-off water into the Taj Mahal, it contended.