SC's no to flying of additional aircraft from Agra

Representative image. (PTI file photo)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday restrained the Airport Authority of India (AAI) from plying additional aircrafts from Agra airfield, even as it allowed a plea for building an additional terminal in the city, known for its iconic 'Taj Mahal'.

A bench presided over by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde granted permission to the AAI with a caveat that no additional plane will land and take off from this site.

The court's order was passed after environmental activist M C Mehta contended that the permission for construction of an additional terminal should not be taken as a nod for increase in air traffic since that may be hazardous to the environment around Taj.

"Prima facie, we consider this objection to be a sound objection and we do not propose to allow an increase in air traffic on this air field," the bench, also including Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant, said.

Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni, representing the Union government, said that it was willing to undertake a study to assess number of tourists who utilise the airport and the possible increase in their number over the years.

"It might be difficult to permit an increase in air traffic. We therefore consider it appropriate to direct the Union of India to consider an alternative site in such anticipatory increase in traffic where the aircrafts could operate from," the bench said.

The court, however, asked the  government to consider running trains such as 'Palace on Wheels' to transport passengers from the new air field to the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ), Agra.

"It will serve nobody’s interest to have the area polluted with a resultant damage to the people and the heritage monuments," the court said.

The bench sought the report by the Centre within three months, to decide the issue against increase the air traffic around Taj Mahal.

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