The Supreme Court modified its earlier order and removed the restriction imposed on increasing air traffic in Agra. In December 2019 permission was granted to the Airport Authority of India (AAI) to construct an additional terminal at Agra airport but imposed a restriction that the air traffic should not be increased, in order to preserve the Taj Mahal monument.

The Bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice JB Pardiwala hearing the petition, allowed the petition filed by the AAI and removed the restriction for additional flights.

The application was filed in the case of MC Mehta v. Union of India wherein the AAI had sought the removal of the restriction of not adding additional flights in the Taj Trapezium Zone.

Amicus Curiae, Senior Advocate A.D.N. Rao, and ASG Aishwarya Bhati appeared in the matter.

The Apex Court held that “It is submitted that the requisite studies have been undertaken by the Airport Authority of India as well as the Indian Government and concurrence has been obtained both of the Union of India and the State Government. The Airport Authority of India proposes to invest considerable funds in extension of the airport.”

“It is thus, submitted that the prerequisites for grant of permission to increase the airport traffic we are satisfied and permission may be granted so that the project takes off.” said the Apex Court.

The Apex Court further directed AAI to take all necessary permission including that of CEC (Commission For Environmental Cooperation) for increasing the traffic.

Further, the Court also ordered the State of UP to consider rehabilitation of the shopkeepers within the Taj Trapezium Zone along with the Agra Development Authority.

Opposing the interim application filed for rehabilitation of the shopkeepers, ASGAishwarya Bhati submitted that the scheme of government under which benefits for rehabilitation were asked, had elapsed and therefore, to that extent the application had become infructuous.

To this submission, the Court said that “Thus, it is for the State Government to consider as to in what manner, the rehabilitation would be required to take place and merely because the earlier scheme has elapsed does not mean that the State can wash its hands off the issue.”

Accordingly, the application was allowed.

Cause Title- M.C. Mehta v. Union of India

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