Burning of cow dung cakes near Taj Mahal banned

January 14, 2015 01:55 am | Updated 02:04 am IST - LUCKNOW:

AGRA, NEW DELHI, 11/02/2014: Taj Mahal at Agra, a symbol of love, continues to attract visitors, both young and old, on February 10, 2014 in Uttar Pradesh. 
Photo: R. V. Moorthy

AGRA, NEW DELHI, 11/02/2014: Taj Mahal at Agra, a symbol of love, continues to attract visitors, both young and old, on February 10, 2014 in Uttar Pradesh. Photo: R. V. Moorthy

Amid concerns over Taj Mahal turning yellow due to increasing pollution, the district administration has banned burning of cow dung cakes in the city while use of coal by small units will also be prohibited soon.

“A recent study published in an American journal says that due to brown and black carbon particles, the white marble of the Taj Mahal is turning yellow. Taking note of this, we have banned burning of cow dung cakes, used for cooking purposes in the city,” said Pradeep Bhatnagar, Agra Divisional Commissioner, who is also Taj Trapezium Zone Chairman.

While cow dung cakes are being used as fuel by poor people, coal is being used in large quantity mainly by manufacturers of bangles and “petha” sweet.

A large number of small units making “petha” operate in Agra, while bangle-making factories thrive in the outskirts of Agra and also neighbouring Firozabad.

Vehicular pollution

The other major concern is use of over 4,000 diesel-run trucks and tempos that have been told to switch to CNG by mid-2015. Black carbon soot generated by use of cow dung, coal and vehicular pollution is said to be the main cause behind major pollution in Agra that has started showing its impact on the “monument of love” – Taj Mahal – that is visited by lakhs of domestic and foreign tourists round the year.

“Carbon particles that get deposited on Taj Mahal do not easily get washed away in rain... It is difficult to erect scaffolds around the Taj Mahal to treat the monument chemically. Therefore, there is no other option but to take these important initiatives,” Mr. Bhatnagar noted.

The Agra Nagar Nigam has been asked to severely penalise those who flout the ban aimed at protecting the UNESCO World Heritage site. The government is also planning a special drive to distribute LPG connections to the poor who will be affected by the ban.

In its recent report, experts from two U.S. institutions – Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Wisconsin – besides the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur and the Archaeological Survey of India have raised concerns over pollution affecting the Taj Mahal. Even the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests took cognisance of the report last week and decided to take up damage-control work on priority basis.

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