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To save Taj Mahal, UP govt’s vision document wants polluting units shut, area declared no-plastic zone

The entire Taj Mahal precinct should be declared a no-plastic zone and all polluting industries in the region closed, the Uttar Pradesh government suggested in its first draft report

india Updated: Jul 24, 2018 23:14 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Taj Mahal,Agra,Supreme Court
FILE - In this March 22, 2018 file photo, tourists visit famed monument of love, the Taj Mahal, in Agra.(AP)

Delhi’s School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) has proposed a series of measures, including the declaration of Taj Mahal precincts as a no-plastic zone, to the Uttar Pradesh government to help conserve the Mughal-era monument.

The other measures suggested include the closure of polluting industries in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ), promotion of small-scale cottage industries and restricting the increase in polluting and private vehicles. TTZ is a defined area of 10,400 sq km around the Taj Mahal covering six districts, including pilgrim destinations such as Vrindavan.

The suggestions are part of SPA’s draft vision document prepared at the behest of the Uttar Pradesh government, which submitted them on Tuesday to the Supreme Court (SC).

A justice M B Lokur-led SC bench had on July 11 lashed out at the state government for neglecting the 17th-century monument.

Advocate Aishwarya Bhatti said the vision document is subject to changes once the court hears it on Thursday.

The first vision covers five disciplines of environmental planning, urban planning, transport and heritage conservation. The methodology has been suggested after assessment at three levels – TTZ, Agra city and Taj precincts.

A final vision would be ready within the next six weeks after SPA receives necessary inputs and feedback.

At the city level, the vision document has suggested declaring the entire precincts of Taj Mahal as a no-plastic zone. Use of bottled water inside the monument should also be banned, it suggested. All historic gardens within the monument boundary need to be replaced with authentic and historically correct plant species. Planting patterns known to have been used in the respective Mughal garden sites should be based on evidence from archival sources.

The vision document also suggests promotion of household industries and art-craft clusters in Agra city and advises the use of innovative techniques to tackle the pollution caused, if any.

River edges must be cleared from the accumulated solid waste and no untreated sewage discharge should be allowed, the document reads.

A recommendation has been made for vehicles using clean and environment-friendly fuel such as electric vehicles to decrease their environmental footprint due to transport modes in the TTZ area. SPA has advocated the promotion of e-rickshaws run on lithium-ion batteries. Entry and exit of vehicles run on fossil fuel should be restricted in the TTZ and pedestrian-friendly walkways should be given high priority, it suggested.

The SC has been monitoring development in the area to protect the Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the last hearing, the SC had drawn a parallel between the Taj Mahal and Paris’ Eiffel Tower, saying the mausoleum was perhaps more beautiful, but India continued to lose tourists and foreign exchange due to the situation prevailing there.

First Published: Jul 24, 2018 15:01 IST