Govt pulls up UP districts over rising pollution around Taj

  • Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 14, 2014 21:07 IST

The environment ministry has sought explanation from five district administrations over rising air pollution around the Taj Mahal, allegedly caused by industries operating illegally in the 80 square km Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ).

A ministry official said that all issues related to rising pollution would be discussed at a meeting on Wednesday and directions may also be issued regarding the future of many industries operating in violation of a 1996 Supreme Court order.

The apex court has imposed restrictions on allowing new industries and expansion of existing industries in the TTZ after it was found that toxins in the air was damaging the marble edifice of the World Heritage monument.

Despite the orders, pollution levels have increased in the period between 1996 to June, 2014.

Documents procured under the RTI Act showed that the UP government allowed 35 new industries in the zone despite the ban. In addition, about 40 existing factories have expanded their operations in violation of the court order.

Most of these industries were related to high energy-consuming glass works and the incentive for them to operate from the zone was highly subsidised natural gas.

Gas price in the zone is almost half of what the industries outside have to pay and this has apparently led to flouting of the court orders, the documents showed.

The increase in overall production from the zone could be gauged from that fact that consumption of natural gas in TTZ had increased by over 50% in the last few years.

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