The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered demolition of a parking lot, which is being built within a kilometre of the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra. The apex court’s order came two days before the scheduled visit of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to the historic monument on October 26. Adityanath had recently said he would visit Agra to review tourism schemes.
A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta directed Agra authorities to demolish within four weeks the parking lot for tourists which was being built within one kilometre of the eastern gate of the 17th-century mausoleum. When the matter came up for hearing today, the apex court asked about the presence of the counsel appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government. When it was informed that no advocate was present, the bench said the parking lot would be demolished. Later in the day, advocate Aishwarya Bhati, standing counsel for the UP government, mentioned the matter before the bench seeking a recall of the order, but the court asked her to move an appropriate restoration application in this regard.
The apex court, which is dealing with a petition filed by environmentalist MC Mehta, has been monitoring development in the area to protect the Taj Mahal, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife Mumtaz in 1631. The historic white marble mausoleum is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mehta, in his PIL, has sought protection of the Taj from the ill effects of polluting gases and deforestation in and around the area.
The apex court had earlier passed a slew of directions on the issue of protecting the iconic monument.