The Supreme Court has permitted the Uttar Pradesh authority to remove 702 trees, which had fallen due to cyclone and storm in May 2015 and April 2018, from various locations of Agra district which comes under the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ).
TTZ is about 10,400 sq km, spread over the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur district of Rajasthan.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde was informed by Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, who appeared for Uttar Pradesh, that these 702 trees were either dead or uprooted in the cyclone and the authorities cannot remove them without the top court's nod as per earlier order.
"There is no dispute that the trees which have fallen due to strong cyclone/storm of April 11, 2018 and May 2, 2015 numbering 702 tress need to be removed from various locations of the District of Agra, UP," said the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, while allowing the application seeking permission to remove these trees.
"As regards the general exemption from order dated May 8, 2015 for felling and disposal of diseased, dry, fallen and uprooted trees in the TTZ area, we are of the view that if any authority or person wishes to remove and dispose of diseased, dry and fallen or uprooted trees in the TTZ area, they shall make an application to the central empowered committee (CEC) giving an exact description and location of the fallen trees that are intended to be removed," the bench said in its order passed last week.
It said CEC shall thereupon visit the site, inspect the trees and then grant or deny permission and report the same to the court.
The bench said the CEC report shall be placed before the court along with the application made by the persons who intend to remove trees.
The top court is hearing the matter related to protection and preservation of the iconic Taj Mahal at Agra and its surroundings.
The top court has been monitoring developments in the area to protect the monument, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal in 1631. The mausoleum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.