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A corridor too far

It was a project that saw a government fall.

For quite some time, no one even knew that the Uttar Pradesh government had plans to exploit the tourism potential of the Taj Mahal by constructing a commercial complex nearby.

Ostensibly aimed at attracting more tourists, it was planned that a corridor would link the Taj Mahal, the world's greatest monument to love, Agra Fort, Etmad-ud-Daula, and Chini-ka-Roza monuments. The Taj Heritage Corridor Project was to include a shopping mall and involved filling up a part of the Yamuna riverbed.

The local Archaeological Survey of India officer lodged a complaint with the Agra police. With billions of rupees at stake, the ASI's views mattered little to the state government.

But with fears of permanent damage to Shah Jahan's final gift to his wife Mumtaz, a concerned central government halted all construction work. The Supreme Court ordered a probe into what was fast becoming a major controversy with deep political overtones and reeking of corruption. The investigation forced Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati to resign in August. Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party took over as chief minister.

Text: Dhiraj Shetty

Complete coverage: The Taj Corridor Project Controversy

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