The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Yanni’s moths land on Ricky’s plate
- Taj concert in green shadow

The ode to love is set for a Latino beat. Pop icon Ricky Martin could kick off his world concert series near the Taj Mahal next month if the Supreme Court, which monitors maintenance of the monument, gives the Latin heartthrob the go-ahead.

Organisers of the February 25 show said a site on the banks of the Yamuna somewhere near Mehtab Baag, scene of the Yanni concert in 1997, is being finalised.

The concert, the first of a series that will take the singer to Eiffel Tower, Rome’s Colosseum, the Great Pyramid in Cairo, the Parthenon in Athens, Lhasa and finally the Statue of Liberty, is expected to benefit Unicef campaigns like Unite for Children and Unite Against AIDS as well as the Ricky Martin Foundation, which is involved in charity work.

“We will approach the Supreme Court of India through the Union ministry of culture and tourism, once the final plans are ready, for clearance,” said a source in the UN body here.

But not all are keen on hearing smash hits like Livin’ La Vida Loca live. Green Impact, a local environment group, says the bright lights and the high decibel are bound to affect the Taj.

Satyendra Tripathi, an activist of the outfit, said after the three-day Yanni concert, which, too, had sparked a controversy, thousands of moths had settled on the 17th century mausoleum that emperor Shah Jahan built in the memory of his wife Mumtaz.

An Uttar Pradesh government official, however, said Martin’s image and the concert’s noble cause should make things easier for the organisers.

Joint secretary, tourism, J.R. Mishra said the organisers had “approached” his department. “We have sought details about the programme. We have to be ready for any query from the Supreme Court.”

D. Dayalan, superintendent of the Archaeological Survey of India in Agra, said the site of the concert would have to be “somewhere beyond 500 metres” from the Taj complex. Under ASI rules, no programme can be held less than 500 metres from the monument compound.

“Once the issue goes to the Supreme Court, we will make an environment impact assessment of the decibel impact and the illuminations. The security position will have to be analysed before clearance is given,” Dayalan added.

During Yanni’s show, the composer and musician had to find an environment-friendly sound system to suit Taj’s conservation requirements.

Martin’s office is optimistic. If Yanni’s three-day programme was given the go-ahead, why should Martin’s one-day show be disallowed.

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