The Supreme Court on Monday once again refused to allow the Uttar Pradesh government to continue the construction of a multi-level parking lot near the Taj Mahal in Agra, PTI reported. The top court said there was no harm in tourists walking up to the monument.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state government, said the government had permission to build a parking lot a kilometre away from the Taj Mahal. “Why don’t you construct the parking lot beyond 1.5 kilometres?” the court asked. When Mehta said that the lack of a parking lot would cause traffic congestion, the bench said, “Don’t worry about foreign tourists, they love to walk”.
The Supreme Court had first ordered the demolition of the multi-level parking outside Taj Mahal in October while hearing a petition filed by environmentalist MC Mehta. He had said the construction would lead to pollution and deforestation in and around the area.
On Monday, the court also criticised the state government for the lack of a comprehensive policy to protect and preserve the beauty of the world-famous monument. The bench issued a notice to the Taj Trapezium Zone authority, asking it whether there was any comprehensive action plan to protect the monument, and asked it to produce a vision document. It also asked the TTZ authority why it had not been holding meetings every two months as expected.
The court also questioned the state government about the one lakh trees meant to be planted near the monument under the compensatory afforestation scheme. The bench posted the matter for further hearing on December 8.