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