India’s Taj Mahal is in danger due to large crowds of tourists. Authorities have come up with a controversial solution – slapping locals with a fourfold increase in their ticket fee.
Indians will now see their all-inclusive ticket to get into the iconic mausoleum increase from 50 rupees (0.70 cents) to 250. That is more than the average price for a lunch in a local restaurant, which is around 150 rupees.
Residents account for between 10 and 15,000 daily visitors to the 17th century white marble monument, situated in the city of Agra and listed in the late 1900s as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The amount of overall visitors flocking to the site was capped at 40,000 a day at the beginning of this year, down from the previous 70,000.
Almost 6.5 million people visited what has been branded “the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage” in 2016.
Foreign visitors’ ticket fees, on the other hand, have risen less than 20 percent, from $16 to $19.
“We want people to pay more to limit the footfall,” a spokesperson from the Archaeological Survey of India, the government body responsible for maintenance, told AFP.
“This will cut down the number of visitors to the mausoleum by at least 15-20% and generate revenue for its conservation,”the spokesperson said.
Experts have warned that too much tourism is eroding the monumental mausoleum as it is causing irreversible damage to the marble floor and walls.
India’s Supreme Court announced in July that it would order the mausoleum to be closed or torn down if authorities failed to look after the cultural site appropriately.
RT / Reuters