Agra: At last, the
controversial Taj Heritage Corridor, sandwiched between the Taj
Mahal and Agra Fort, will be transformed from a wasteland into the
city's green lung.
The Uttar Pradesh Forest Department has been told to draw up plans
to green the 80-acre dump yard and graveyard along the Yamuna
river on which former chief minister Mayawati wanted to develop a
commercial hub and amusement parks.
But because the Archaeological Survey of India did not clear the
project, the Supreme Court ordered its suspension in 2003.
"Yes, the chief minister (Akhilesh Yadav) called me and told me to
speed up efforts to green the neglected corridor. Funds will soon
be available and work will begin," District Forest Officer N.K.
Janoo told IANS. Yadav has a background in environmental
"But we have to follow all the directions of the Supreme Court,
high court and the Archaeological Survey of India," Janoo said.
Once completed, the green stretch will be a new attraction for
At present, the land is being used not only as a dumping ground
for garbage but also as a place to bury bodies of children and
aborted foetuses. The sprawling 80-acre platform, recovered
through dredging of the river bed and refilling of the open space,
was left unfinished after corruption charges were levelled against
Mayawati. The charges eventually brought down her government.
The case against her has been on for long, but the Taj Corridor
continues to remain an eyesore. Scores of foreign tourists daily
visit the site and take pictures that are not too flattering.
Reports of the site being used as a burial ground have caused
concern. Dozens of graves can be seen with the huge stones and
boulders used for identification.
"While the Taj Corridor lies buried in the debris of politics, the
platform is being used to bury dead children," say office-bearers
of the 125-year-old Kshetra Bajaja Committee which manages the Taj
Ganj crematorium called Mokshdham.
Environmentalists have on several occasions expressed concern at
the alarming pollution level in the Yamuna after hundreds of
trucks of waste was littered around with carcasses of animals and
bodies of children.
With no official agency willing to take care of what's left behind
in the corridor, locals have been using the site to their
"While children play cricket and guides draw in tourists with all
kinds of yarns, devotees come to pay obeisance to the river," said
Pandit Gopi Ballabh Shashtri, a Yamuna devotee.
(Brij Khandelwal can be contacted at email@example.com)