Agra: Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in a reply to an RTI query filed by TOI has surprisingly said that the parliamentary standing committee "had not asked for any conservation work" at the Taj monument complex. As reported earlier, committee members had visited the monument in April 2015 and criticized the archaeological body for dark spots on the minarets of the white marble mausoleum. Subsequently, ASI hadbegun conservation work on the 17th century monument. However, according to the RTI submitted by ASI's Agra branch, "The parliamentary standing committee which visited the Taj in April 2015 had not issued any order for conservation work."
Interestingly, the parliamentary standing committee on science and technology, environment and forests, headed by Congress MP Ashwani Kumar, in its report on Taj Mahal had recommended that the ASI should take urgent remedial measures for completion of works at the site.
The panel had also recommended that ASI should explore the possibility of utilizing the expertise of foreign consultants, if required. "Further, the Archaeological Survey of India should prepare a holistic and comprehensive action plan for the protection and conservation/preservation of the Taj Mahal, to be implemented within a time bound manner," Kumar's report had recommended.
Following the committee's report, an interim plan with a proposed cost of Rs 5.49 crore for the conservation work was submitted by ASI. The interim plan, whose details was sought by TOI in another RTI, said that the cleaning of the four minarets, pedestal walls, facades and the dome of the main mausoleum would be completed by 2018. When contacted on the matter, ASI superintending archaeologist (Agra) Bhuvan Vikrama said, "The committee never gave any orders, but submitted its recommendations to the concerned authority. And based on those recommendations, our headquarters prepared an action plan for the conservation work."
In a reply to another query to know the amount sought by ASI from the culture ministry for compliance of orders of the committee, ASI said it had not sought any specific fund from it.