The Supreme Court on Wednesday prima facie agreed to the Airports Authority of Indias (AAI) request to build an extra terminal at Agra airport, but forbid any increase in air traffic to the detriment of the world heritage site of Taj Mahal, other monuments and the people living in the area.
A Bench led by Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde directed the Centre to consider an alternative site in case of any anticipatory increase in air traffic to and from the airport.
Involve the Railways
It also asked the Centre to consider providing more excellent trains like the Palace on Wheels, to ferry tourists and passengers from the new airfield to the protected Taj Trapezium Zone in Agra.
The court asked the Centre to involve the Railways to tackle the anticipated increase in tourists and bear in mind the fact that it will serve nobodys interest to have the area polluted with a resultant damage to the people and the heritage monuments.
The court asked the Centre to file its report within three months.
In the meanwhile, the interim prayer for restraining the Centre from allowing increase in air traffic will be considered after the Union of India files its response by January 2020, the court said.
It, however, reiterated in its order that it will be difficult to permit an increase in the air traffic.
The hearing was based on a plea made by the AAI to build an additional terminal at the existing Agra Airport.
However, the court took into account the sound objection made by advocate-petitioner M.C. Mehta that the authorities intend to allow an increase in air traffic with it. This would prove hazardous to the environment, it said.
Additional Solicitor General A.N.S. Nadkarni, for the Centre, stated that the government wished to conduct a study on the number of tourists who would utilise the airport and their anticipated increase over the years.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Additional Advocate General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation Ltd, sought the courts permission to permit a metro service within the city of Agra.
The court referred this issue to the Central Empowered Committee to consider its impact on the enviornment and file a report within four weeks.