“It will serve nobody’s interest to have the area”, where monuments like the Taj Mahal are located, “polluted with a resultant damage to the people and the heritage monuments”, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday even as it stated it was not against the construction of an additional terminal at the existing Agra airport. The court, however, said it will be difficult to allow any increase in air traffic there as it will be hazardous to the environment and monuments.
Taking up the Airports Authority of India’s request to allow construction of the terminal, a bench of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant said, “Prima facie, we see no reason why such permission should not be granted.”
The AAI’s plea was opposed by environmentalist M C Mehta, who said that the new terminal will lead to increased air traffic as more flights will be operated and consequent damage to monuments like the Taj. He said there was no need for construction of an additional terminal.
Though the bench disagreed with his opposition to the construction of the new terminal, it agreed that a consequent increase in air traffic would not be in the interest of the environment.
Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni urged the court to allow a study “to take into account the number of tourists who utilise the airport and the anticipatory increase in the number of such tourists over the years” and also sought “permission to allow such increase in air traffic at the said airport after conducting a study”.
The court asked Nadkarni to involve the Railways to deal with the flow of tourists.
The report has to be submitted within a period of three months.