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Pollution on the rise around Taj

Despite spending millions on controlling pollution in Agra, a report says that an alarming rise in the level of noxious gases have been recorded.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2007, 18:56 IST
Indo-Asian News Service || Brij Khandelwal
Indo-Asian News Service || Brij Khandelwal

Even after spending millions of rupees on controlling air pollution in the vicinity of heritage buildings in this tourist city, a report says that an alarming rise in the level of noxious gases have been recorded around the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort.

The figures from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have alarmed conservationists and environmentalists here who have demanded strong action to control heavy traffic movement around the Taj Mahal.

The CPCB report says that the nitrogen dioxide level has gone up to 28 micrograms per cubic metre from 14, while the sulphur dioxide level has also gone up several fold.

The suspended particulate matter (SPM) level too has gone up alarmingly because of the dry Yamuna riverbed and mining activity along the Aravalis, in Bharatpur district.

Though the industrial activities in Agra have come to a virtual halt after the Supreme Court ordered shifting or closure of polluting units from the Taj Trapezium, the overall scenario on the pollution front continues to remain dismal.

"The main reason for the increase in the air pollution level is the increase in the number of diesel vehicles. In 1985, there were only around 50,000 registered vehicles, but now their number is close to 500,000," says an environmentalist of Agra.

Another reason for the increase of pollution in the vicinity of Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal has been the recent decision of district authorities to divert the city traffic to the Yamuna Kinara road passing between the two heritage structures.

Thousands of buses, tractors and trucks pass close to the Taj Mahal and the Fort and for hours together there is a traffic jam on this stretch, which is a great irritant to the tourists who want to cross the river to see the historical Etmauddaula Tomb or the Ram Bagh and Mehtab Bagh.

The transport companies along the Yamuna Kinara road have defied all orders to shift elsewhere. The district authorities have failed to shift the Uttar Pradesh roadways bus stand from the Fort area to the new terminus on the Delhi-Agra highway.

All these factors have contributed to the increasing pollution level here. It seems that the city of the Taj has lost its war against pollution.

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