The Supreme Court ordered demolition of a parking lot near Taj Mahal on Tuesday and said that the parking lot would be an environmental hazard to the monument.
A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta directed Agra authorities to demolish within four weeks the parking lot for tourists which was being built within one kilometre of the eastern gate of the 17th century mausoleum.
The Apex court pulled up Uttar Pradesh government for granting permission to local authorities to construct a parking lot near the monument.
The Supreme Court, which is dealing with a petition filed by environmentalist MC Mehta, has been monitoring development in the area to protect the Taj Mahal.
Mehta, in his PIL, has sought protection of the Taj from the ill effects of polluting gases and deforestation in and around the area.
Earlier in August, the SC bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Guptahad had slammed the UP government, while hearing of an application to cut over 400 trees for down an additional railway track between Mathura in Uttar Pradesh to Delhi.
According to media reports, the SC bench had said “Do you want to destroy Taj Mahal” and added, if you want to continue with your application of cutting trees for laying railway track “Then file an affidavit or application and say that the Union of India wants to destroy the Taj Mahal.”
Taj Mahal was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz in 1631 and the monument is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Taj Mahal has been in the centre of a controversy in past few months. Earlier, BJP Member of Parliament (MP) from Kanpur, Vinay Katiyar, claimed that the mausoleum was built on the site where once a Hindu temple stood.
Katiyar had said Taj Mahal was called ‘Tejo Mahal’, and was a Lord Shiva’s temple. Senior Haryana Minister Anil Vij had also termed the monument as a “beautiful cemetery”. He had tweeted that “Taj Mahal ek khoobsurat kabristan hai.”
#ताजमहल एक खूबसूरत कब्रिस्तान है ।
— ANIL VIJ (@anilvijminister) October 20, 2017
In a move to stem controversy over the Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said the Taj Mahal is an important tourist draw and it was immaterial who built it and for what reason.
Earlier in November, the UP government has omitted reference to the Taj Mahal in a booklet published on completion of six months of the Yogi Adityanath government.
(With agency inputs)