Skip to main content
Sabrang
Sabrang
Economy Labour

Agra: Shopkeepers, artisans near Taj Mahal face bleak future

Left in the lurch after court order barring commercial activities within 500 meters of Taj Mahal, many of them run small businesses that have been handed down over generations

Sabrangindia 05 Oct 2022

AgraRepresentation Image

The livelihoods of owners and workers in as many as 400 shops, hotels and small business establishments within a 500-meter radius of the Taj Mahal in Agra are now in jeopardy following a September 26 Supreme Court order to stop all commercial activity in the area.

Times of India estimates that the livelihood of as many as 50,000 people could be affected. Many establishments are those where artisans and marble inlay workers produce traditional artifacts. The unique craft has been passed down in families over generations. Local resident and tourist guide Nitin Singh, told the publication, “Tajganj, which is the area around the Taj Mahal, is a living heritage area. Commercial activities around the monument have been taking place since it was built.”

On September 26, the bench of justices SK Kaul and AS Oka had directed the Agra Development Authority (ADA) to stop all commercial activities within 500 meters of the peripheral wall of the Taj Mahal by October 17. The court was responding to a plea by the Taj Western Gate Market Association, a group of who had been allotted an area outside the 500-meter radius. The petitioners had claimed that while they had moved their establishments to allotted spaces, illegal businesses were being run within the 500-meter area in clear violation of the court’s previous orders.

LiveLaw reported that Amicus Curiae senior advocate ADN Rao also supported the plea to stop all commercial activities in the immediate vicinity of the UNESCO Heritage site.

The court allowed the plea and passed the order: “We allow the prayer and thus prayer 'A' of IA No. 91272/2022 reads as under direct the Agra Development Authority to remove all business activities within 500 meters from the boundary/peripheral wall of the monument Taj Mahal which shall be in tune with Article 14 of the Constitution of India.”

Over the last few decades, concerns have been raised about the maintenance of the Taj Mahal, particularly in view of challenges posed by pollution. In fact, it was environmentalist MC Mehta who had first moved court in 1984 urging protection for the monument from pollution. Following this the SC has been monitoring developments in the area. In fact, it had passed a similar order in May 2000 restricting commercial activity in the immediate vicinity of the Taj Mahal.

However, it is important to note that many of the businesses are run out of the homes of people who live in the area where commercial activities have now been restricted. Nitin Singh insists, “All business activities in the area are non-polluting in nature and do not pose any threat to the marble mausoleum.”

A group of such establishment owners staged a protest after supply of goods to these establishments was stopped. In fact, the ADA had advised the establishments on Saturday, October 1, not to make any further purchases of goods.

According to the Hindustan Times, the order further said that vehicles carrying goods to shops in the area will be stopped. Shops remained closed on Sunday, as the ADA carried out a survey. ADA vice-chairman Charchit Gaur told the publication, “We are moving ahead with the survey to identify such business activities around the Taj and are informing those having business activities to stop them within the set deadline.”

The protesters marched towards the home of Union Minister SP Singh Baghel on Sunday. Baghel is a Minister of State in the Ministry of Law and Justice and was elected to the Lok Sabha from Agra, and affected establishment owners have sought his intervention.

Nitin Singh, who is heading an action committee comprising affected people, told the publication, “We are petty shopkeepers, small hotel and emporium owners and thus have limited resources to engage lawyers when it comes to seeking review of court order but our meeting with the local MP was not that fruitful.” He further said, “We complained against the haste being shown by the ADA in setting such a short deadline to ensure compliance of Supreme Court orders when the Apex court has itself set no such deadline. The ADA could have given sufficient time to us to explore legal remedies.”

Affected establishment owners are now considering filing a review petition.

Related:

EXCLUSIVE: Shahjahan returned properties of King Jai Singh for donating haveli for Taj Mahal

Wah Taj! Busting the many conspiracy theories about the monument that represents India

Is Taj Mahal not a part of Indian Culture?

Agra: Shopkeepers, artisans near Taj Mahal face bleak future

Left in the lurch after court order barring commercial activities within 500 meters of Taj Mahal, many of them run small businesses that have been handed down over generations

AgraRepresentation Image

The livelihoods of owners and workers in as many as 400 shops, hotels and small business establishments within a 500-meter radius of the Taj Mahal in Agra are now in jeopardy following a September 26 Supreme Court order to stop all commercial activity in the area.

Times of India estimates that the livelihood of as many as 50,000 people could be affected. Many establishments are those where artisans and marble inlay workers produce traditional artifacts. The unique craft has been passed down in families over generations. Local resident and tourist guide Nitin Singh, told the publication, “Tajganj, which is the area around the Taj Mahal, is a living heritage area. Commercial activities around the monument have been taking place since it was built.”

On September 26, the bench of justices SK Kaul and AS Oka had directed the Agra Development Authority (ADA) to stop all commercial activities within 500 meters of the peripheral wall of the Taj Mahal by October 17. The court was responding to a plea by the Taj Western Gate Market Association, a group of who had been allotted an area outside the 500-meter radius. The petitioners had claimed that while they had moved their establishments to allotted spaces, illegal businesses were being run within the 500-meter area in clear violation of the court’s previous orders.

LiveLaw reported that Amicus Curiae senior advocate ADN Rao also supported the plea to stop all commercial activities in the immediate vicinity of the UNESCO Heritage site.

The court allowed the plea and passed the order: “We allow the prayer and thus prayer 'A' of IA No. 91272/2022 reads as under direct the Agra Development Authority to remove all business activities within 500 meters from the boundary/peripheral wall of the monument Taj Mahal which shall be in tune with Article 14 of the Constitution of India.”

Over the last few decades, concerns have been raised about the maintenance of the Taj Mahal, particularly in view of challenges posed by pollution. In fact, it was environmentalist MC Mehta who had first moved court in 1984 urging protection for the monument from pollution. Following this the SC has been monitoring developments in the area. In fact, it had passed a similar order in May 2000 restricting commercial activity in the immediate vicinity of the Taj Mahal.

However, it is important to note that many of the businesses are run out of the homes of people who live in the area where commercial activities have now been restricted. Nitin Singh insists, “All business activities in the area are non-polluting in nature and do not pose any threat to the marble mausoleum.”

A group of such establishment owners staged a protest after supply of goods to these establishments was stopped. In fact, the ADA had advised the establishments on Saturday, October 1, not to make any further purchases of goods.

According to the Hindustan Times, the order further said that vehicles carrying goods to shops in the area will be stopped. Shops remained closed on Sunday, as the ADA carried out a survey. ADA vice-chairman Charchit Gaur told the publication, “We are moving ahead with the survey to identify such business activities around the Taj and are informing those having business activities to stop them within the set deadline.”

The protesters marched towards the home of Union Minister SP Singh Baghel on Sunday. Baghel is a Minister of State in the Ministry of Law and Justice and was elected to the Lok Sabha from Agra, and affected establishment owners have sought his intervention.

Nitin Singh, who is heading an action committee comprising affected people, told the publication, “We are petty shopkeepers, small hotel and emporium owners and thus have limited resources to engage lawyers when it comes to seeking review of court order but our meeting with the local MP was not that fruitful.” He further said, “We complained against the haste being shown by the ADA in setting such a short deadline to ensure compliance of Supreme Court orders when the Apex court has itself set no such deadline. The ADA could have given sufficient time to us to explore legal remedies.”

Affected establishment owners are now considering filing a review petition.

Related:

EXCLUSIVE: Shahjahan returned properties of King Jai Singh for donating haveli for Taj Mahal

Wah Taj! Busting the many conspiracy theories about the monument that represents India

Is Taj Mahal not a part of Indian Culture?

Related Articles

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Theme

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Campaigns

Sunday

03

Jan

Pan-India

Saturday

05

Dec

05 pm onwards

Rise in Rage!

North Gate, JNU campus

Thursday

26

Nov

10 am onwards

Delhi Chalo

Pan India

Videos

Communalism

Bastar violence: Anti-Christian Campaign causes breach in Adivasi unity

Hundreds of Adivasi church-goers across villages in Narayanpur and Bastar, Chhattisgarh have been experiencing boycott, intimidation and violence since December last year, forcing them to leave their homes and live in refugee camps. Reportedly, Adivasi districts across Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh is seeing a rise Hindutva mobilisation against Christians .

Communalism

Bastar violence: Anti-Christian Campaign causes breach in Adivasi unity

Hundreds of Adivasi church-goers across villages in Narayanpur and Bastar, Chhattisgarh have been experiencing boycott, intimidation and violence since December last year, forcing them to leave their homes and live in refugee camps. Reportedly, Adivasi districts across Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh is seeing a rise Hindutva mobilisation against Christians .

IN FACT

Analysis

Stop Hate

Hate and Harmony in 2021

A recap of all that transpired across India in terms of hate speech and even outright hate crimes, as well as the persecution of those who dared to speak up against hate. This disturbing harvest of hate should now push us to do more to forge harmony.
Taliban 2021

Taliban in Afghanistan: A look back

Communalism Combat had taken a deep dive into the lives of people of Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Here we reproduce some of our archives documenting the plight of hapless Afghanis, especially women, who suffered the most under the hardline regime.
2020

Milestones 2020

In the year devastated by the Covid 19 Pandemic, India witnessed apathy against some of its most marginalised people and vilification of dissenters by powerful state and non state actors. As 2020 draws to a close, and hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers continue their protest in the bitter North Indian cold. Read how Indians resisted all attempts to snatch away fundamental and constitutional freedoms.
Migrant Diaries

Migrant Diaries

The 2020 COVID pandemic brought to fore the dismal lives that our migrant workers lead. Read these heartbreaking stories of how they lived before the pandemic, how the lockdown changed their lives and what they’re doing now.

Archives