15-Aug-2018

Taj Mahal Case: Top Court To Hear Plea Seeking Heritage City Tag For Agra

NEW DELHI Aug 1: The Supreme Court has said it would hear on August 28 an application, filed in the matter related to protection and preservation of the Taj Mahal, which has sought to declare Agra as a heritage city.
 
A bench comprising justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta was told by environmentalist M C Mehta, the petitioner in the case, that nothing has been done by the authorities to prevent encroachment in and around the historic monument.
 
He referred to his application filed earlier in which he had sought a direction to declare Agra a heritage city.
 
"Let Agra be declared a heritage city," he told the bench, adding that authorities have failed to comply with the directions passed by the top court in the matter.
 
The counsel appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government told the bench that Mr Mehta had filed the application around 10 years ago and the state had filed a reply earlier.
 
The counsel submitted that state government would file a fresh affidavit on the plea giving details of the present status.
 
However, the bench said it had made it clear yesterday that affidavits would be filed in the matter only by the joint secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the commissioner of Agra Division and the director general of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
 
"We had made it clear that we are not going to entertain any affidavit filed by anybody else except these three officials. New affidavits have to be filed only by these three persons," the bench said.
 
Attorney General K K Venugopal had yesterday told the bench that the joint secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Commissioner of Agra Division would be the officers responsible for the maintenance of the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ).
 
The bench was also apprised that the director general of the ASI would be responsible for the maintenance of Taj Mahal.
 
The TTZ is an area of about 10,400 sq km spread over the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur district of Rajasthan.
 
During the hearing today, Mr Mehta told the bench that even after top court's orders, encroachment in the area was not removed.
 
The bench, while listing the matter for further hearing on August 28, said that authorities could file supplementary affidavits giving the latest details.
 
The top court 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 Mahal at Agra.
 
Its construction was completed in 1643 but work continued on other phases of the project for another 10 years. The ivory white marble mausoleum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.