Activists march to protect Taj from pollution


To highlight the pollution threat to the Taj Mahal, the 17th century monument of love, environmental activists on Sunday marched along the Yamuna river with posters and banners.

Activist Devashish Bhattacharya said the "Taj was being continuously sand-blasted in this hot weather as the riverbed had gone dry.

"Though the Yogi government has announced a barrage on the Yamuna, downstream of the Taj Mahal, no date has been set for laying the foundation stone."

The protesters said "we want uninterrupted flow of water in the river to ensure that the ambience around the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort, Itimad-ud-Daula's Tomb and Ram Bagh was transformed and the air pollution brought down".

Ranjan Sharma and Shailendra Singh Narwaar of the River Connect Campaign told IANS: "We have been holding marches and meetings for the past several years but unfortunately there has not been an inch of movement to reduce air pollution in Agra which has so many world heritage monuments."

The march promoters said the Yamuna riverbed needed immediate desilting and dredging.

River activists Rahul Raj and Deepak Rajput said: "Tons of polythene and leather cuttings from shoe factories had prevented seepage of water and polluted the river."

Meanwhile, work on clearing up the debris and wild growth on the controversial Taj Heritage Corridor, sandwiched between the Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort, began two days ago.

"The ASI plans to green up the entire 20 hectares of reclaimed riverbed which will improve the ambience and help control air pollution," an official said.

The corridor project was the brainchild of former Chief Minister Mayawati. A Supreme Court order in 2003 stopped work on the project and is believed to have led to the fall of the Mayawati government.