TAJ MAHAL – SAFETY AND ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION
M. C. Mehta v. Union of India & Others
AIR 1997 SC 734: (1997) 2 sec 353: 1997 (1) SCALE 61: 1996 SCR 973
Dated: December 30, 1996
BENCH: Justices Kuldip Singh and Faizan Uddin.
Based on the reports of various technical authorities mentioned in this judgment, we have already reached the finding that the emissions generated by the coke/coal consuming industries are air-pollutants and have damaging effect on the Taj and the people living in the TTZ. The atmospheric pollution in TTZ has to be eliminated at any cost. Not even one per cent chance can be taken when – human life apart – the preservation of a prestigious monument like The Taj is involved. In any case, in view of the precautionary principle as defined by this Court, the environmental measures must anticipate, prevent and attack the causes of environmental degradation. The ‘onus of proof’ is on an industry to show that its operation with the aid of coke/coal is environmentally benign. It is, rather, proved beyond doubt that the emissions generated by the use of coke/coal by the industries in TTZ are the main polluters of the ambient air.
2. We, therefore, hold that the above-mentioned 292 industries shall as per the schedule indicated hereunder change-over to the natural gas as an industrial-fuel. The industries which are not in a position to obtain gas connections – for any reason – shall stop functioning with the aid of coke/coal in the TTZ and may relocate themselves as per the directions given by us hereunder.
3. We order and direct as under:-
(i) The industries (292 listed above) shall approach/apply to the GAIL before February 15, 1997 for grant of industrial gas connection.
(ii) The industries which are not in a position to obtain gas connections and also the industries which do not wish to obtain gas connections may approach/ apply to the Corporation (UPSIDC)/Government before February 28, 1997 for allotment of alternative plots in the industrial estates outside TTZ.
(iii) The GAIL shall take final decision in respect of all the applications for grant of gas connections by March 31, 1997 and communicate the allotment letters to the individual industries.
(iv) Those industries which neither apply for gas connection nor for alternative industrial plot shall stop functioning with the aid of coke/coal in the TTZ with effect from April 30, 1997. Supply of coke/coal to these industries shall be stopped forthwith. The District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police shall have this order complied with.
(v) The GAIL shall commence supply of gas to the industries by June 30, 1997. As soon as the gas supply to an industry commences, the supply of coke/coal to the said industry shall be stopped with immediate effect.
(vi) The Corporation/Government shall finally decide and allot alternative plots, before March 31, 1997, to the industries which are seeking relocation.