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Firozabad Glass Industry is Declining: Is Taj Mahal to be Blamed?

The age old industry which used to provide employment to many Indian artisans was forced to have a major shift when the artisans were banned from burning coal and forced to use costly natural gas to fuel their furnaces

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Glass Industry
Glass industry in Firozabad is declining. Wikimedia
  • Firozabad Glass Industry, an ancient industry and an integral part of Indian culture is facing a danger of closure
  • The decline has rendered many artisans unemployed

Agra, June 27, 2017– The glass industry in the city has received a huge blow and the workers are not blaming GST or rocketing fuel prices but the symbol of love and beauty, Taj Mahal.

The age old industry which used to provide employment to many Indian artisans was forced to have a major shift when the artisans were banned from burning coal and forced to use costly natural gas to fuel their furnaces.

The decision was taken by the authorities in order to preserve World Heritage Site Taj Mahal’s white marble which was yellowing from the smoke coming from the furnaces from the industry. The Firozabad glass industry is roughly 35 Km. away from the monument.

According to the reports by to Phys.org, Hanuman Prasad Garg, the President of glass industry association in Firozpur says, “because of the Taj Mahal, the entire industry is suffering.” Despite the efforts made, the Taj is still losing its lustre.

Many of us adore the beauty of the Taj but the same has become a curse for a huge no. of craftsmen who toil over furnaces to make colorful glistening bangles, an important part of Indian culture.

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The industry is believed to be as old as the Taj itself and dates back to Mughal-era.
As a result of the new regulations, many factories have closed or downsized considerably due to failure in coping up with the rising prices of natural gas, rendering the glass artisans unemployed.

“I have been making glass items since I was 10 years old. This is the only thing I know. My entire household is involved in this work.” Said Zafar Ahmad (an artisan) to AFP. He added, “But still it is so difficult to survive. I can’t even afford sending my four children to decent schools. I can’t imagine what will happen to them if God forbid I am out of work.”

Despite working in harsh conditions ( working in almost darkness in little flame has rendered many artisans blind and the smoke from furnaces has led to fatal respiratory diseases), the artisans earn a mere Rs.300 a day.

Authorities are now considering to close the district for good and the artisans are feeling that their days in the industry are numbered. The National Green Tribunal has taken samples from the furnaces for a test of pollutants. It is considering shifting the entire industry elsewhere.

Shahbaz Ali, chairman of the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation told Hindustan Times, “No one can take away their talent. They have a rich traditional knowledge, we are just polishing it.”

– prepared by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram. Twitter: @NikitaTayal6 

Next Story

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.

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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)