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What if UNESCO withdraws Taj’s world heritage site title, asks SC

“It is a world heritage site. What will happen if Unesco say that we withdraw the world heritage title,” asked the bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta.

Flooded lawns at Taj Mahal after rains. (Pic ANI)

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New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) Slamming both the Central and Uttar Pradesh government for the neglect of Taj Mahal, the Supreme Court on Thursday wondered what if Unesco drops the 17th century Mughal monument from its list of world heritage sites.

Asked if the authorities concerned have filed the management plan for the protection and preservation of the heritage site, Justice Lokur said: “It is very very difficult to understand something that is happening. Something is said on affidavit, something is said orally and something otherwise. It is unacceptable.

Coupled with this, the court also wanted to know which was the authority responsible for the protection and preservation of Taj as it found that the three affidavits filed before it were by the Uttar Pradesh Tourism Department, second by the Union Environment and Forest Ministry and third by some other authority.

“Somebody has to take the responsibility. Who has to take the responsibility for Taj – either Centre or Uttar Pradesh government with an identifiable authority?” the bench said.

As senior counsel A.D.N.Rao told the court that the Archaeological Survey of India was responsible for the Taj, the court expressed surprise that the it has been kept out of the consultation process for preparing the draft vision document for the protection and preservation of the Taj.

Ordering that a copy of the draft vision document be made available to the ASI and asking its to share it with INTACH, Agha Khan Foundation, ICOMS and other similar entities who have expertise in protecting and restoring the historic monuments, the court also directed the UP government to give a copy of the vision document to petitioner M.C.Mehta for his comments.

Sharing the court’s concern on the possibility of Unesco dropping Taj from the list of world heritage sites, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told the court that the task involving the preservation and protection of Taj and other adjoining monuments including Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and Sikandra fort at Mathura Ais massive and has to be carried by way of short term, medium and long term plan.

He told the court that short term plan itself would take two years to complete.

At the outset of the hearing, Justice Lokur took exception to Uttar Pradesh government filing the draft vision document asking if the state government expected the Court to “correct it.”

The court was told that the Taj Trapezium Authority was responsible for executing the larger plans fior the protection of heritage monument, Justice Lokur said had it been doing its job, things would not have come to such a pass.

The court directed it be told “categorically and unequivocally” who is responsible for the TTZ.

“Whether it is Union of India, then which Ministry, if it is Uttar Pradesh government, then which Ministry,” said Justice Lokur, adding that “we are in a situation where left hand does not know what right is doing”.

TTZ is an area of about 10,400 sq km spread over the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur district of Rajasthan.

As the Attorney General referred to the draft vision document involving multi-pronged approach to preserve and protect the heritage monument, Justice Lokur confronted him with an affidavit by the Uttar Pradesh government which said that there were 1,167 polluting industries in the area.

Venugopal then sought to clarify that all of them were being operated on clean fuel and UP government’s standing counsel Aishwarya Bhati said it was just the nomenclature to describe them which is in use for long.

This drew the court’s ire.

“They are polluting industries, your affidavit says but you are saying that they are not polluting but by nomenclature they have been described so,” said Justice Lokur.

“There is something wrong with your English or there is something wrong with ours,” he added.

India

AAP will Support Congress if Next PM is From Grand Old Party: Amanatullah Khan

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Amanatullah Khan

New Delhi, Jan 23: Openly announcing support for Rahul Gandhi in 2019, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Amanatullah Khan on Wednesday said that the party would extend support to the grand old party as there is much likelihood that the next Prime Minister would be from the Congress .

“Abhi bahar mujhse koi keh raha tha ki log keh rahe hain ki Congress ko vote isliye denge kyunki Pradhanmantri unka banega, hum ye keh rahe hain ki agar Pradhanmantri unka hi bana toh hum bhi usey support kar denge,” Khan said indicating that 2019 is Modi vs Rahul Gandhi.

The major statement by AAP’s Amanatullah Khan was made in the presence of Chief Arvind Kejriwal at the Delhi Waqf Board meeting.

The chairman of the board, urged the Imams of the city mosques to support the AAP and said, “People are saying they will vote for the Congress because the next prime minister will be from that party.

Muslim voters should elect AAP in Delhi and if Congress wins at the Centre, “it will draw our support”, he said.

Kejriwal also said that his party will support anyone except Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

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India

INA veterans to march in Republic day parade

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New Delhi: The Indian Air Force Marching Contingent on Rajpath during Republic Day Parade 2018

New Delhi, Jan 23 : For the first time, four veterans from the Indian National Army (INA) of Netaji Subhash Chadra Bose will take part in the Republic Day parade on Rajpath.

The move is considered as an unprecedented honor for freedom fighters and the acknowlegmentof the contribution of INA in the Indian independence

According to the report, the veterans- Parmanand, Lalit Ram, Hira Singh and Bhagmal. The four are aged 95 plus.
The four veterans, who fought World War II, will be seated in jeeps that will march past Rajpath during the Republic Day parade.

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India

Piyush Goyal given temporary charge of Finance

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Piyush Goyal

New Delhi, Jan 23 : Railway Minister Piyush Goyal was on Wednesday given charge of Finance Ministry in the absence of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who is in the US for medical treatment, apparently ruling out his recuperation in time for the interim budget to be presented on February 1.

Goyal will hold the portfolios of Finance and Corporate Affairs on a temporary basis till the resumption of duties by Jaitley, who has now been made a Minister without portfolio, a Rashtrapati Bhawan communique said.

Jaitley (66) had a kidney transplant in May last year and then too Goyal was put in charge of Finance and Corporate Affairs.

“The President of India, as advised by the Prime Minister, hereby directed that during the period of indisposition of Arun Jaitley, the portfolios of Minister of Finance and Minister of Corporate Affairs held by him, be temporarily assigned to Piyush Goyal, in addition to his existing portfolios.

“Further, as advised by the Prime Minister, Arun Jaitley be designated as Minister without portfolio during the period of his indisposition or till such time he is able to resume his work as Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs,” the communique said.

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