Pending a conclusive study on the increase in air traffic and its possible impact on the Taj Mahal, the Supreme Court of India has restrained the Airport Authority of India (AAI) from plying additional aircraft from the Agra airfield. 

On Wednesday, the court said the centre must plan a bigger airport away from Agra and ferry passengers to the heritage city by “more excellent trains like the Palace on Wheels”. A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justice BR Gavai and Surya Kant appeared to agree with environmental lawyer MC Mehta’s objection to the expansion of the airport. However, appearing on behalf of the AAI, senior advocate Ajit Sinha said AAI wanted to build an additional terminal to provide better facilities to passengers.  

Additional Solicitor General, AS Nadkarni, told the press that the centre would appeal to the court to increase air traffic only after thorough research, as the bench made it clear that it is difficult to permit an increase in air traffic. “We, therefore, consider it appropriate to direct the Union government to consider an alternative site in such anticipatory increase in traffic where the aircraft could operate from”, further added the Supreme Court.

The Union Government should consider running trains to TTZ in Agra- Supreme Court of India.

The Union Government will also consider involving the railways to solve the problems of the anticipated increase in tourists and bear in mind the fact that it will serve nobody’s interest to have the area polluted, with resultant damage to people and the heritage monument. With nearly seven million tourists, including a million foreigners, visiting the Taj Mahal in 2018-19, the bench said that the government should consider running trains to transport passengers from the new airfield to the Taj Trapezium one (TTZ) in Agra.

Similarly, Senior advocate Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for Lucknow Metro Rail Corporation Ltd, sought permission for starting metra service within Agra. To which the Supreme Court has referred the plea for examination to the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), to look further into its impact on the environment and the Taj Mahal and produce a conclusive report in four weeks.

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