New Delhi, July 11: Hearing a petition seeking maintenance of the Taj Mahal, the Supreme Court pulled up the Centre for the poor upkeep of the 16th-century mausoleum. “The Taj Mahal is more beautiful than the Eiffel Tower and could have solved the country’s foreign exchange problem…either we will shut down the Taj or you demolish or restore it,” the apex court told the government. The court would be hearing the matter daily from July 31.

“Eighty million go to watch Eiffel Tower which looks like a TV Tower. Our Taj is more beautiful. If you had looked after it, your foreign exchange problem would have been solved,” said the judges. The court also asked the chairman of the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) to explain the violation of its orders banning the expansion of industrial units in the zone.

While calling it sheer lethargy on the part of the authorities, the court also slammed the Uttar Pradesh government for failing to come up with a vision document to preserve the monument.

On its part, the Centre said that IIT Kanpur was assessing the air pollution level in and around Taj and would give its report in four months. The court said that despite a parliamentary standing committee report on Taj protection, no concrete step had been taken by the government.  Earlier this year, the court had blamed the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) for its failure in protecting and preserving the iconic monument. The court had noted that the monument was brown and green because of pollution.