In an unexpected incident, various units of the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government have served Taj Mahal 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 as such taxes don't apply for monuments. They also said that the situation would be remedied soon.
Notices of outstanding bills have been seved to both Taj Mahal and the Agra fort. The ASI has been asked to pay more than ₹ 1 crore in "dues".
According to ASI's superintending archaeologist in Agra, Raj Kumar Patel, three notices have been received so far, two for the Taj Mahal and one for the Agra Fort.
Whats does the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) say?
"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 reporters.
"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 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.