Within a 500-meter radius around the Taj Mahal in Agra, there are 470 unauthorised buildings, including cafes, restaurants and emporia. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had filed formal complaints in the majority of these encroachments - some of which date back several decades - but the local government has done nothing to remove them.
Media accessed the list of such illegal structures sent by the director-general of ASI to the UP government and district administration last year for removal. ASI officials said that despite raising the issue several times with local authorities, encroachments have not been removed.
The ASI's authority, according to superintendent archaeologist Raj Patel, is restricted to making formal complaints against unlawful development near protected monuments. The Agra Development Authority and the local government are responsible for acting upon demolition notifications that are issued by the ASI director-general's office.
An ASI analysis states that between 2015 and 2022, 248 new, unauthorised buildings erupted inside a 100–300 metre radius around the protected monument and its sub-circles. A few of them are located as close to the world historic site as 50 metres.