SC nod to felling 4,000 trees in Taj Trapezium Zone for rail track
New Delhi, Jan 29 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Friday gave permission to fell 4,108 trees in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) for the purpose of laying new railway track between Uttar Pradesh’s Mathura and Jhansi.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian took up the application filed by Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL) through video conferencing.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing RVNL, submitted before the bench that the proposed railway track is 274 km long, and out of this 80 km stretch falls in the Taj Trapezium Zone, which is 10,400 sq km, spread over the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur district of Rajasthan.
RVNL, in its application justifying the felling of trees, contended that the railway track is essential in the view of the existing track, which has worn out and leads to long delay due to non-availability of railway track.
Mehta submitted before the bench that central empowered committee (CEC) has approved the felling of trees already for the purpose of railway track. The CEC has also imposed conditions, which includes compulsory afforestation, and the authority will comply with them, he said.
Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the top court has been monitoring the developmental projects in the area. During the hearings in the matter, in connection with protection and preservation of Taj Mahal, the top court had emphasised that it very important to protect the monument from the developmental impact.
Granting permission for cutting down the trees, the court specifically emphasised that it is subjected to conditions which have been put out by CEC.