SC refuses permission for multi-level car parking at Taj Mahal

The Supreme Court also rapped the Uttar Pradesh government on the knuckles for not readying a comprehensive policy for the Taj Mahal’s protection.

india Updated: Nov 20, 2017 20:09 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Supreme Court,Taj Mahal,Multi-level parking
The proposed multi-level parking at the Taj Mahal entails cutting down 11 trees. (HT photo)

The Supreme Court on Monday denied permission for a multi-level car parking facility near the Taj Mahal and said tourists visiting the monument should walk instead of driving.

The court also pulled up the state government for not conceiving a vision document for the Taj Mahal’s conservation.

“Police can stop people from parking around the monument. Stop the cars at a distance and let people walk. Ask them to park somewhere else. As it is Agra is such a polluted city. People must walk there more often. To protect the monument is not just our concern. It should be the state’s concern too,” a bench led by Justice MB Lokur told additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta who had urged the court to let the state cut 11 trees to complete construction of the parking lot.

Mehta said Taj was an internationally acclaimed monument which draws lakhs of visitors. “It is our responsibility to provide a methodical parking so that there is no chaos around,” he submitted to the court.

But the bench was in no mood to relent. “Yes there must be infrastructure. However, do not forget about the word sustainability when you talk about development. Traffic can be managed if you have the will. Foreigners love to walk more than we do,” the court quipped.

Read more: Air quality around Taj Mahal stable, UP govt tells Supreme Court

When Mehta promised the state will plant equal number of trees that would be cut, the bench shot back: “Tell us what happened to over one lakh trees you were supposed to plant. Over the years we have given you permission but where have you planted them. As per the forest department report 70 per cent of the ones planted are dying and also there is no land left for new plantation. Where will you plant them?”

“Please understand you cannot get the Taj removed. Look at the broader picture for which you must have a vision document,” said the court, while issuing notice to the Taj Trapezium Authority (TTZ). Giving two weeks to the authority to be present in court, the bench said it wants to know why its members are not meeting every two months as per an earlier court direction. Also, TTZ has to present a vision document, if there is any, on the Taj Mahal.

Mehta informed the court that the administration had junked the proposal to construct a business centre. For the parking lot, he said, all necessary permissions had been granted.

First Published: Nov 20, 2017 20:09 IST