Lucknow: The Taj Mahal in Agra, which draws millions of tourists to India each year, has been served notices for property tax and water bills for the first time in its 370-year history. Officials of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) call it a mistake that they hope will be remedied soon.
Both the Taj Mahal and the Agra fort have been served notices for outstanding bills by various units of the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government. The ASI has been asked to pay more than ₹ 1 crore in “dues”.
Three notices have been received so far, two for the Taj Mahal and one for the Agra Fort, ASI’s superintending archaeologist in Agra, Raj Kumar Patel, confirmed to NDTV.
“For the Taj Mahal, we have got two notices, one for property tax and the other from the water supply department that has 12 points. A total of 1 crore plus rupees has been demanded from the ASI,” Dr Patel told NDTV.
The official said it had to be an error as such taxes don’t apply for monuments.
“First of all, property tax or house tax is not applicable to monument premises. Uttar Pradesh laws have this provision too and so do other states. As for the water notice, in the past no such demand has been made and we do not have any water connection that we use for any commercial purposes. The lawns that we maintain inside the Taj complex are for public service and there is no question of dues,” Dr Patel said.
The Agra fort, a UNESCO world heritage site built by the Mughal emperor Akbar, was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty until 1638, when the capital was moved from Agra to Delhi. This historic monument has also received a five-crore rupee tax demand, according to ASI officials.
“The cantonment board had served us notice for the Agra fort, a world heritage monument – a total of over ₹ 5 crore. We have replied to them that the concerned government Act exempts monuments,” Dr Patel said.
The Times of India quoted a senior municipal officer in Agra saying an investigation had been ordered into how the notices had been issued. The officer also said a private company was processing the notices on contract with the government.