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Court orders removal of crematorium near Taj Mahal

NEW DELHI: Indian Supreme Court has ordered Uttar Pradesh state government to remove a crematorium near the Taj Mahal to protect the iconic monument from pollution rigours, media reports said.

The judges made their order after a letter from another Supreme Court judge, who said that he’d noticed the impact of the spewing smoke and ash on the mausoleum during a recent visit to the monument and was concerned about the effect of air pollution on the marble structure.

Hindus traditionally cremate their dead using wood fires. The government has been trying to encourage people to use electricity-powered crematoriums.

With its gleaming dome and graceful spires, the Taj Mahal is one of the world’s most recognizable buildings, visited by more than 3 million tourists a year.

The monument’s domes and minarets, inlaid with semi-precious stones and carvings, is considered the finest example of Mughal art in India. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

Resting on the banks of the Yamuna River in the city of Agra, the Taj Mahal was built in the 17th century by Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Over the decades, the once pearly white Taj Mahal has been turning yellow due to pollution. The government has closed scores of factories located near the monument and has tried to provide uninterrupted power supply in Agra so that residents do not have to use diesel-operated generators.

The court ordered the government of Uttar Pradesh to come up with a decision on its plans for the crematorium within 15 days.

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