- This case lies between C. Mehta and Anr V Union of India. It is popularly known as Taj Trapezium case. The writ petition was filed by M.C. Mehta, along with the petition a report was attached.
- This report was on “Environmental Impact of Mathura Refinery” (Varadharajan Committee).
- It was published in the year 1978 b the Government of India. In the Taj Trapezium zone (TTZ), the sources of pollution were indicated in the reports of the experts.
Background of the Case:
- Taj is considered as one of the best Mughal architecture in India. The defined area of 10400 sqkm was built around the taj mahal to protect the monument from pollution. Such area was known as Taj Trapezium Zone
- The Trapezium shaped area around Taj Mahal is covering 5 districts in the region of Agra. In the year 1983, it was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- M.C. Mehta was a public interest Lawyer who visited Taj Mahal in the year 1984.
- He saw that the Taj Mahal’s Marble was turning yellow. Due to widespread pollution by the nearby industries, the monument was a bit pitted as well as a result of which he filed a petition in the Supreme Court.
Facts of the Case:
- It was stated by the petitioner that the reasons behind the monument's degradation were the chemical industries, refinery, and the foundries. Various emissions of gases like Sulphur- dioxide with oxygen led to damage of the monument. This mixture turned into the acid rain, due to which the moisture in the atmosphere was retained which resulted into “Acid rain”.
- Such rains where harmful for the marbles which were laid on the Taj Mahal. This was slowly damaging the monument. The damage was quite visible, as it turned out to be a yellow pallor on the marbles.
- At some other places on Taj Mahal, there were brown and black spots as well they were easily magnified with the Yellow spots.
- If the damage had not been considered seriously and immediately it would lead serious danger to the monument. It was on its way of degradation due to the harmful effects of the pollution. Some of the effective measures needed to be taken to save the Taj Mahal from disrupting its reputation internationally.
- The petitioner therefore requested the court to take measures for the preservation of the monument.
- A report named “Inventory and Assessment of Pollution Emission in and Around Agra-Mathura Region” was publised by the Central Board for Prevention and Control of Water Pollution. They declared some level of pollution via statistics, which resulted to be very high. The report also stated some measures. According to report 2, thermal power stations needed to be closed down. Along with that they needed to be replaced with by diesel in railway yards.
- The emissions of Sulphar dioxide needed to be cut down upto 50%.
Principles and Laws pertaining to this Case:
- The Precautionary Principle was taken in to consideration. In this principle certain environment measures were taken by the state government and the statutory authorities. According to this principle anticipation, prevention and attack are the causes of environmental degradation. In case of serious and irreversible damage, lack of scientific certainity should not be considered a reason for postponing the measures to prevent environmental degradation.
- The polluters pay principle was defined in the case of Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v Union of India. According to this principle, the liability for harm to the environment extends not only towards compensation but also to restore the environmental degradation.
- The three enactments were considered :The Water (prevention and Control of pollution) Act, 1974 (the Water Act), the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 (the Air Act) and the Environment protection Act, 1986 (the Environment Act).
- Article 21 of the constitution of India guarantees protection of life and personal liberty. Also, Article 47, 48A and 51A(g) of the constitution state that raising the standard of public health and protection of natural environment.
Supreme Court's Observation and Judgement:
- Taj was moving towards its destruction and damage; such deterioration was well acknowledged by the court. The court also keenly observed that such damage was not only by the traditional causes but there were other various socio and economic factors.
- Different expert athorities submitted various reports by stating the air pollutants generated from industries have harmful effect on the marble of Taj Mahal. It is also affecting the people living in the Taj trapezium zone. The pollution in TTZ has to be reduced.
- The court ordered that, the industries which are not in the position to obtain gas connections shall stop its functioning with the aid of coke/coal in TTZ and they may have to relocate themselves.
- The applications for the grant of gas connections will be finalized by the Gas Authority Of India Limited (GAIL).
- The court futher stated that 292 Industries shall change over the natural gas as an industrial fuel. The court also gave certain rights and benefits to the workmen employed in these 292 Industries.
- The workmen shall continue of employment at the new town and place where the industry is shifted. The period between the closure of the industry in Agra and its restart at the place of relocation shall be treated as active employment and the workmen shall be paid.