Tuesday November 12, 2019
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Catapults To Protect Tourists At The Taj From Simian Attacks

The biggest threat to the security of tourists comes from monkeys and there are hundreds of them waiting to pounce upon unsuspecting visitors.

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The Taj Mahal attracts not only foreign, but domestic tourists too; Source: Pixabay

Tourists visiting the Taj Mahal will now be under safety cover of catapults to scare rampaging monkeys who have been injuring visitors at an alarming frequency.

A group of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) troopers are now seen with catapults and not licensed arms for use against terrorists and anti-social elements.

The biggest threat to the security of tourists comes from monkeys and there are hundreds of them waiting to pounce upon unsuspecting visitors, tourist guide Ved Gautam told IANS.

Almost daily a monkey bite case is being reported. Last month, the number of victims was 16. The Archaeological Society of India (ASI) has put up notice boards at several places warning tourists of monkeys.

taj mahal
Tourists visiting the Taj Mahal will now be under safety cover of catapults to scare rampaging monkeys who have been injuring visitors at an alarming frequency.

At 15 points, CISF personnel armed with catapults are ready to take slingshots at the simians who have turned ferocious.

“When they see a catapult aimed against them, the monkeys flee full speed for safety,” a trooper said.

CISF Commandant Braj Bhushan Singh said his men had been given catapults to scare away the monkeys and make tourists feel safe inside the Taj Mahal premises.

A number of plans have been drawn up by various government agencies including the Agra Municipal Corporation after a monkey snatched a baby from a mother’s lap and killed it some two months ago.

Catapults made of plastic and rubber were selling Rs 10 a piece but are now the price has gone up to Rs 20 due to increasing demand all over the city.

Vegetable vendors, temple security staff, shopkeepers and domestic servants are buying catapults.

TAJ MAHAL
Catapults to save tourists at the Taj from simian attacks

According to a rough estimate, the number of monkeys in the Agra city area is around 50,000.

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“Such a big population of simians can neither be provided for nor shifted as there are no forests left. Usually they return to urban areas even if they are transported to remote areas,” said an animal husbandry expert.

“The problem was earlier confined to Mathura and Vrindavan, but now they are all over the Agra city,” said Shravan Kumar Singh, a green activist.

Meanwhile, Naresh Kadyan, Chairman of the National Animal Welfare Party, has protested against the arming of CISF personnel with catapults. He has lodged a complaint with the union Environment and Forest Ministry citing provisions of the Wildlife Act. (IANS)

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Yamuna Continues to Remain Dry Even After Heavy Rain; Threatens Mughal Monuments

The NGT in September 2018 had asked it to work on river cleaning programmes for 12 river basins

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In Agra city alone, there are 90 drains opening into Yamuna. Pixabay

Even after a fortnight of monsoon rains, river Yamuna in Agra continues to remain dry, with heaps of polluted garbage providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes and bacteria. This time of the year, the river is usually in spate, recalls old timer Ganno Pandey. But “so far we see no water flowing down. Only the drains are bringing in lots of pollutants and polythenes,” Pandey adds.

The Taj Mahal and other historical monuments along Yamuna’s banks are now feeling the heat. Already green patches on the surface have appeared at the rear side of the Taj Mahal. Experts have said these are excreta of mosquitoes breeding in the polluted waters of the river.

Just before the April 18 polling in Agra, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah had categorically assured that the first task of the elected government would be cleaning of Yamuna and a barrage to hold back water behind the Taj Mahal.

Earlier, Nitin Gadkiri, the Union Minister for transport, has on umpteen occasions promised steamers would ferry tourists from Delhi to Agra. So far, one does not see any ground action. The CPCB has meanwhile decided to set up a unit in Agra to study pollution in Yamuna. The NGT in September 2018 had asked it to work on river cleaning programmes for 12 river basins.

yamuna, mughal monuments
The NGT in September 2018 had asked it to work on river cleaning programmes for 12 river basins. Pixabay

The projects should include sewage management plan, industrial effluent management plan, solid waste and flood plain management plan and ecological flow and ground water management plan.

“Is there any scope for more studies when countless studies done already have proved Yamuna water is unfit for humans and animals. What is flowing down in Yamuna is waste, untreated water, sewer, industrial effluents, highly toxic and full of pollutants, from upstream cities including Delhi,” commented environmentalist Devashish Bhattacharya.

In Agra city alone, there are 90 drains opening into Yamuna. The municipal corporation claims it has tapped some 40. “But a close investigation proves the claim hollow. The bigger ones, Bhairon, Mantola, Balkeshwar ‘naalas’ continue to discharge huge quantities of untreated waste water without any check,” says green activist Shravan Kumar Singh.

The Yamuna river bed between Etmauddaula and the Taj Mahal has become a dumping ground for pollutants. Polythene, plastic waste, leather cuttings from shoe factories, construction material, are all thrown into the river.

Once the festival season starts, PoP idol immersion will further worsen the eco-conditions. People are being advised to avoid using PoP idols, and go for simple conventional ‘mitti ki murti’,” said Lok Swar president Rajiv Gupta.

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The Taj Mahal and other historical monuments along Yamuna’s banks are now feeling the heat. Pixabay

The city is lucky to have escaped a major drinking water crisis as the Gangajal pipeline from Bulandhshahar district became operational just in time during peak summer.

“Right now, half the city’s needs are being met by the Sikandra Water Works which gets Gangajal through a 135km long pipeline. Half the water is going waste as the old Water Works at Jeoni Mandi is yet to be connected with the pipeline. We are getting 375 MLD from the Gangajal pipeline,” an official explained.

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While the Gangajal pipeline may have solved the drinking water problem for the time being, the bigger question about dredging, desilting and cleaning of the river Yamuna considered vital for the historical monuments, remains unanswered.

“From 1990, politicians of all parties have been talking of a barrage on Yamuna downstream of the Taj Mahal. Twice, the foundation stones have been laid. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath himself has announced the barrage project in Agra would start soon. But so far there is only talk, more talk and assurances. Why they are dragging their feet on this important project, no explanation is coming forth,” Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society said. (IANS)