NEW DELHI, Nov 18 : India's Supreme Court has ordered a state government to remove a wood-burning crematorium from near the Taj Mahal to protect the monument from pollution damage.
The judges said on Monday the Uttar Pradesh government could either move the crematorium or install an electric one in its place.
They ruled after a letter from another Supreme Court judge, who said that he'd noticed the mausoleum spewing smoke and ash during a recent visit to the monument and was concerned about the effect of air pollution on the marble structure.
In their order, the two judges suggested that the state could move the wood-burning crematorium and also build an electric one at the current site. This would allow people wanting to use wood pyres to do so, while others could use the electric crematorium, they said.
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.
With its domes and minarets, semi-precious stone inlays and carvings, the monument is considered the finest example of Mughal art in India. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
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 memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child. ?AP