Supreme Court on Friday lifted its earlier interim order imposing a complete ban on construction, industrial activities and cutting of trees in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ). The top court also allowed the Uttar Pradesh government to consider an application for environmental clearance based on environmental impact assessment.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde said non-polluting industries with proper clearances and those complying with the rules can be allowed. It said the ban on the heavy industry will continue. The Supreme Court was hearing a plea of environmentalist MC Mehta pertaining to the protection of the Taj Mahal, the fragile eco-system surrounding it, and construction in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ), an "eco-sensitive area" having four world heritage sites including the Taj Mahal.
Earlier on December 4, the Supreme Court permitted the building of an additional terminal at the airport in Agra near Taj Mahal but made it clear that it would not allow an increase in air traffic on the airfield as that will be hazardous to the environment and asked the Centre to consider luxurious trains like the "Palace on wheels" to the city.
The apex court also directed the Centre to consider an alternative airport site to meet the increase in the air traffic due to rise in tourist influx to visit the Taj Mahal and other destinations in and around Agra in Uttar Pradesh. Further, the top court said it has been informed that the Railways can provide more excellent trains like the "Palace on wheels" and such trains could have employed to transport passengers from the new airfield to the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ), Agra.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde made it clear that it was willing to allow the construction of the additional terminal at the existing airport but was against increasing the air traffic which could "damage" the environment in an "eco-sensitive area" having some world heritage sites including Taj Mahal.
The TTZ was established on December 30, 1996, to protect the Taj Mahal from pollution through an order of the Supreme Court, which is a 10,400 sq km area spread across the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur district of Rajasthan.
(with inputs from agencies)