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environment law – this Court has directed relocation industries from Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) for protection and preservation of the Taj Mahal in Agra. The recommendation by NEERI that the bus terminus should be shifted from Esplanade area as a long-term measure to protect and preserve the Victoria Memorial Hall, deserves serious consideration, not only to preserve the monument but to de-congest the city.

Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata, at dusk.

Image via Wikipedia

 Reportable


 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA



 CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


 CIVIL APPEAL NO. 7785 OF 2011

 (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) NO.9154 OF 2008)

                                       

State of West Bengal ... Appellant



 Versus



Howrah Ganatantrik Nagarik Samity 

& Ors. ... Respondents





 O R D E R


A. K. PATNAIK, J.



 Delay condoned. Leave granted.



2. This is an appeal against the order dated 28.09.2007 



 of the Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court in 



 Writ Petition No. 7987 (W) of 2002.



3. The facts very briefly are that during the British rule, 


 Victoria Memorial Hall was built in the memory of 



 Queen Victoria in Central Kolkata. After 



 independence, this monument continues to be known 



 for its beautiful architecture and green surroundings. 


 2




 To the north of the Victoria Memorial Hall is a huge 



 stretch of land known as `the Maidan' which is covered 



 by green grass and interspersed with a large number of 



 trees, bushes and shrubs. At the end of about 2 kms. 



 of this greenery is the Esplanade where another 



 monument known as the `Sahid Minar' stands, and by 



 the side of the Sahid Minar is a bus terminus. To 



 protect and preserve the Victoria Memorial Hall and its 



 green surroundings, a public interest litigation (Writ 



 Petition No. 7987(W) of 2002) was filed in the Calcutta 



 High Court by the respondent nos. 1 to 5.



4. After hearing all concerned parties and considering 


 the concerned affidavits and counter-affidavits as well 



 as recommendations of expert bodies including the 



 National Environmental Engineering Research 



 Institute (for short `NEERI'), the High Court inter alia 



 directed in the impugned order that the bus terminus 



 at Esplanade be shifted to a distant place within six 



 months. Aggrieved by this direction in the impugned 



 order, the State of West Bengal is in appeal before us.


 3




5. Learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the 



 High Court could not have issued directions to the 



 State Government to shift the bus terminus located at 



 Esplanade, which had been in existence for more than 



 six decades only on the recommendation of NEERI. He 



 submitted that lakhs of people every day arrive at and 



 depart from the bus terminus at Esplanade and this is 



 because the bus terminus is located in a central area 



 of Kolkata. He submitted that shifting of the bus 



 terminus from Esplanade will thus cause immense 



 inconvenience to the traveling public. He further 



 submitted that the bus terminus is situated 2 kms. to 



 the north of Victoria Memorial Hall and does not at all 



 damage this historic monument. The High Court, 



 therefore, was not right in thinking that for 



 preservation of the Victoria Memorial Hall, shifting of 



 the bus terminus was necessary. 



6. The respondent no.2, who appeared in-person on 



 behalf of respondent no. 1, on the other hand, relied 



 on the recommendation of NEERI that the bus 



 terminus at Esplanade area should be shifted from the 


 4




 existing location. He submitted that the High Court 



 was, therefore, right in directing the shifting of the bus 



 terminus from Esplanade within six months. He 



 submitted that this is not a fit case in which this Court 



 should interfere with the impugned order of the High 



 Court.



7. We have considered the submissions made on behalf of 



 the appellant and the respondents and we find that 



 NEERI has suggested some long term measures for 



 preservation of the Victoria Memorial Hall in Para 5.2 



 of its report. The relevant portion of Para 5.2 of the 



 report of NEERI is quoted hereinbelow:




 "5.2 LONG-TERM MEASURES


 Diversion of Heavy Road Traffic on the Road 

 Encircling the VM Monument.


 The pollution from auto exhaust is the most 

 important causative factor when the Victoria 

 Memorial protection from atmospheric 

 environment is considered. Therefore, the traffic 

 on roads around the VM should be minimum 

 particularly complete banning of heavy traffic. 

 Bus terminus at Esplanade Area (Commercial) 

 should also be shifted from the existing location."


 5




8. It will be clear from the recommendation of NEERI, 



 quoted above, that shifting of the bus terminus at 



 Esplanade area has been suggested by NEERI as a 



 long-term measure and not as an immediate measure. 



 A bus terminus, where lakhs of people arrive and 



 depart through different buses, if shifted immediately, 



 will cause a lot of inconvenience to the traveling 



 public. Moreover, before the bus terminus is shifted 



 from Esplanade, another suitable place has to be 



 found out to which the bus terminus can be shifted 



 and various conveniences have to be provided for the 



 traveling public at the new bus terminus. All this 



 cannot be done within a period of six months. The 



 High Court, therefore, was not justified in directing in 



 the impugned order that the bus terminus at 



 Esplanade be shifted within six months.



9. The recommendation of the NEERI, quoted above, 


 however, is emphatic that auto exhaust is the most 



 important causative factor polluting the atmospheric 



 environment around Victoria Memorial Hall. For this 



 reason, NEERI has recommended that the traffic on 


 6




 roads around the Victoria Memorial Hall should be 



 minimum and the bus terminus at Esplanade area 



 should be shifted from the existing location. Hence, 



 even though the bus terminus is located 2 kms. away 



 from Victoria Memorial Hall the auto-exhaust from a 



 large number of buses at the bus terminus would 



 pollute the atmospheric environment around the 



 Victoria Memorial Hall. In M.C. Mehta v. Union of India 



 & Ors. [(1997) 2 SCC 353], this Court has directed 



 relocation industries from Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) 



 for protection and preservation of the Taj Mahal in 



 Agra. The recommendation by NEERI that the bus 



 terminus should be shifted from Esplanade area as a 



 long-term measure to protect and preserve the Victoria 



 Memorial Hall, deserves serious consideration, not 



 only to preserve the monument but to de-congest the 



 city. 



10. We accordingly modify the impugned order of the 



 High Court and direct the State Government to 



 consider and take appropriate action on the NEERI 



 report recommending relocation of the bus terminus 


 7




 away from the Esplanade. The appeal is allowed to the 



 extent indicated above. No order as to costs. 




 .............................J.

 (R. V. Raveendran)




 .............................J.

 (A. K. Patnaik)

New Delhi,

September 12, 2011. 


 Reportable


 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA



 CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


 SPECIAL LEAVE PETTION (C) NOs.1135-1136 OF 2009

                                        

Friends of Victoria Memorial ... Petitioner



 Versus



Howrah Ganatantrik Nagarik Samity 

& Ors. ... Respondents





 O R D E R


A. K. PATNAIK, J.



 Delay condoned.



2. These Special Leave Petitions under Article 136 of the 



 Constitution are directed against the orders dated 



 28.09.2007 and 15.02.2008 of the Division Bench of 



 the Calcutta High Court in Writ Petition No.7987 (W) of 



 2002.



3. The facts very briefly are that during the British rule, 



 Victoria Memorial Hall was built in the memory of 



 Queen Victoria in Central Kolkata. After 



 independence, this monument continues to be known 



 for its beautiful architecture and green surroundings. 


 9




 To the north of the Victoria Memorial Hall is a huge 



 stretch of land known as `the Maidan' which is covered 



 by green grass and interspersed with a large number of 



 trees, bushes and shrubs. To protect and preserve the 



 Victoria Memorial Hall and its green surroundings, a 



 public interest litigation (Writ Petition No. 7987(W) of 



 2002) was filed in the Calcutta High Court by the 



 respondent nos. 1 to 5.



4. After hearing all concerned parties and considering 


 the petitions, affidavits and counter affidavits and the 



 recommendations of expert bodies, the High Court, 



 inter alia, directed in the impugned order dated 



 28.09.2007 that parking of all cars around the 



 compound of the Victoria Memorial Hall shown as red-



 marked portions in the annexed map and nearby areas 



 would be immediately prohibited and such prohibition 



 would continue for 24 hours every day including the 



 holidays. A group of persons describing itself as `the 



 Friends of Victoria Memorial' then filed an application 



 before the High Court for modification of the aforesaid 



 direction so as to permit morning walkers to park their 


 10




 cars in the north and south zones of Victoria Memorial 



 Hall for two hours in the early morning. The High 



 Court, however, dismissed the application by the 



 impugned order dated 15.02.2008 saying that car 



 parking has only been prohibited around Victoria 



 Memorial Hall and persons desirous of morning walk 



 may go to the Maidan which was lying vacant and may 



 also walk by the side of Ganges or the Eden Garden 



 area and the area around the grounds of Mohun 



 Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting Clubs 



 where there was no restriction of parking the vehicles. 



 Aggrieved, the petitioner has filed these Special Leave 



 Petitions.



5. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and 


 we find from the recommendations of the Expert 



 Committee (annexed to the Special Leave Petitions as 



 Annexure P1) that a Committee of Experts has 



 observed that parking activities add to pollution load 



 around the Victoria Memorial Hall and have 



 accordingly recommended that the parking of vehicles 



 on all sides of the Victoria Memorial Hall compound 


 11




 should be totally banned. The High Court appears to 



 have considered these recommendations of the Expert 



 Committee and directed in the impugned order dated 



 28.09.2007 that parking around the Victoria Memorial 



 Hall on the red-marked portions of the map would be 



 prohibited. The High Court has also indicated in the 



 impugned order dated 15.02.2008 that there were 



 many other places in Kolkata, such as Maidan, the 



 Eden Garden area and the area around the grounds of 



 Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan 



 Sporting Clubs as well as the area by the side of the 



 river Ganges where there was no restriction of parking 



 the vehicles. Those who want to walk and take their 



 cars to the place of their walk thus have sufficient 



 number of alternative places in Kolkata where they can 



 go for their morning walks.



6. We are, therefore, not inclined to interfere with the 



 impugned orders of the High Court and accordingly 



 dismiss the Special Leave Petitions with no order as to 



 costs. 


 12





 .............................J.

 (R. V. Raveendran)




 .............................J.

 (A. K. Patnaik)

New Delhi,

September 12, 2011. 


13

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