The Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) is referred to by the court as a total of 10,400 sq. km trapezium-shaped area which covers a total of five districts of the Agra region. The TTZ comprises over 40 protected monuments including three World Heritage Sites the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
In 1984, M.C Mehta, an attorney in the Supreme Court of India and an active environmentalist, filed a Writ Petition mentioning the adverse effects of the industries and vehicles in the area of the Taj Mahal.
It was attached with the report of Varadharajan Committee. This report pointed out the sources of pollution. The committee suggested in the report that
- no new large industries should establish in the area without conducting an appropriate detailed study to access the environmental effect of those industries
- the existing industries should be shifted away from the area.
- an appropriate authority should be created to monitor the emission by industries and air quality at Agra continuously.
The Central Board for the Prevention and Control of Water Pollution, published a report. Industries that are in operation in Agra city and its outskirt were categorized. The board added some statistics about the pollution level in the region which were quite high. The Contribution of sulphur dioxide from the five recognized sources was in a range between 0.065 to 2.28 tonnes per day from
- two thermal power stations;
- two railway marshaling yards;
- other industries in Agra and
- Vehicular traffic respectively.
The board suggested that closing down of two thermal power stations and replacing coal by diseal in the railway yards emission of sulphur dioxide can be reduced by 50%.
The National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) gave an overview report implying that the pollution levels are quite high around the Taj and this was seriously deteriorating the Taj as well as the ecosystem in the area. The impact of the air quality on the Taj has been stated as
- Acidic emissions into the atmosphere;
- This caused serious concern for the well-being of the Taj Mahal.
- Impact both biotic and abiotic elements of the ecosystem.
Orders passed by the Supreme Court of India.
Firstly, the court directed the U.P Pollution Control Board;
- To get a survey of the area and prepare a list of industries and foundries which are the sources of pollution.
- Issue notice to all the industries and foundries;
- By the board, notice was issued to 511 industries.
The U.P. Pollution Control Board also issue a public notice to 511 industries to install an anti-pollution devices, if they haven’t done so and the court directed the board to publish the notice in two local newspapers and two national newspapers. The industries were required to reply within 8 weeks from the date of publication of the notice. All 511 industries were polluting and 507 industries from them didn’t even have any air pollution control devices.
The 212 industries that didn’t respond to the notice were closed by the court order.
The court also issued notices to
- The Ministry of Petroleum and Gas Authority of India and said to coordinate its work with NEERI and U.P Pollution Control Board for this survey.
- The Corporation stated that it had 220 acres of developed area in Kosi (Kotwa) for immediate allotment, 330 acres and 85 acres of undeveloped land in Salimpur (Aligarh district) and Etah respectively. All these places were outside Taj Trapezium Zone.
After having a detailed study of the two Varadharajan Reports (1978 and 1995) and various National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) Reports and ordered the shifting of industries in the TTZ in a temporary manner. The Supreme Court examined two to four NEERI reports, two Varadharajan reports and several reports by the Board and held that industries in TTZ are active contributors to air pollution.
The Final Judgment:
On the 30th of December 1996, the bench of two judges. The court was of the view that The Taj Mahal is a masterpiece and has an international reputation. It is also an important source of revenue for the country because of the huge tourist attraction. So, its beauty could not be compromised.
- The court gave its orders based on the “Precautionary Principle” and “Polluter Pays Principle” as was defined in Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of India.
- The court was of the view that “the precautionary principle” and “The polluter pays” principle are essential features of “Sustainable Development”.
The Court relied on Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of India and Ors. to define the “Precautionary Principle” and “The Polluter pays principle”.
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