In a bid to protect the eco-sensitive Taj Trapezium zone near the historic Taj Mahal in Agra, the Supreme Court has directed the Yogi Adityanath government to provide information on the trees planted in the area. According to PTI, the apex court has asked the state government to give details of the number of trees planted in and around Taj Mahal and Taj Trapezium Zone. “Why there is sudden flurry of activities in Taj Trapezium Zone and why leather industries and hotels are coming up there,” the apex court asked UP government. It has also directed the government to file before it within four weeks a vision document for protection and preservation of Taj Mahal.
The Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) referred to by the court is a 10,400 sq.km trapezium-shaped area covering the five districts of the Agra region. The TTZ comprises over 40 protected monuments including three World Heritage Sites — the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
Earlier, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had directed the Divisional Commissioner of Agra to provide information on the trees in the Taj Trapezium Zone. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the officer to provide necessary data within three weeks to advocate M C Mehta, who has been appointed as local commissioner to probe the alleged illegal felling and sale of 4,000 trees in the area.
The NGT had also directed the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that no unauthorised construction activities are permitted and no trees cut in the eco-sensitive zone near the Taj Mahal. It had also asked to conduct physical demarcation of the forest area and the green belt within 500 metres of the Taj Trapezium Zone. The tribunal had directed an inquiry into the alleged illegal felling and sale of 4,000 trees after taking note of a media report and issued notice to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and Uttar Pradesh government.
In 2016, the state government had put the onus of 100 percent survival of trees on sub-divisional officers, while supervising divisional forest officers (DFOs) and the conservator of forest were allotted 40% and 10% respectively, according to The Times of India. Senior officials were asked to keep a periodic record of each and every tree planted in the protected zone, mentioning their height, width and girth among other details.