The controversial Taj Heritage Corridor is being resurrected in a new avatar but disturbing questions remain, environmentalists say. The Uttar Pradesh horticulture department, in collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India, has started greening the vast wasteland sandwiched between two world heritage monuments.The Supreme Court, some 10 years ago, had asked the Archaeological Survey of India to clean up the debris from the corridor site and develop the 80 acres of reclaimed land as a green buffer to insulate the Taj Mahal from air pollution. But for want of resources, it took more than a decade for the work to start.“We have laid a new lush green lawn and lined up ornamental plants. Come rainy season and the whole area would be a green delight and attract tourists,” UP horticulture department’s garden superintendent Mukesh Kumar said. Agra Mayor Navin Jain has promised that the municipal corporation would extend the green frontiers and maintain the newlydeveloped park. Once completed, the green stretch will be a new attraction for tourists.Till recently the land was 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.Environmentalists have on several occasions expressed concern at the alarming pollution level in the Yamuna after hundreds of truck-loads of waste, including carcasses of animals and bodies of children, was dumped into the river. When tourists looked at the Taj Mahal from Agra Fort, what they saw was a disturbing sight heaps of stinking garbage, carcasses and graves of children dotting the structure and mounds of rubble that invite mosquitoes, dogs, snakes, crows and vultures.
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