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Home to 3 World Heritage Sites, Agra’s Pollution Level Continues to Remain Alarming

Not just human life, even the stone heritage is under threat

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Agra, Heritage Sites, Pollution
River activists here have demanded urgent steps to save the Yamuna, which is slowly dying due to pollution and lack of water. Pixabay

A quarter century of environmental activism, and a series of judicial interventions by the apex court, has not fundamentally changed the ecological conditions in the Taj Trapezium Zone, spread over 10,400 sq km. The air pollution level continues to remain alarming, affecting both humans and stones.

River activists here have demanded urgent steps to save the Yamuna, which is slowly dying due to pollution and lack of water.

Not just human life, even the stone heritage is under threat. Tourism has been badly hit and the health of the local population is in peril, the activists said.

Recommendations of expert committees are gathering dust and the Supreme Court orders have been blatantly ignored.

Agra, Heritage Sites, Pollution
A quarter century of environmental activism, and a series of judicial interventions by the apex court, has not fundamentally changed the ecological conditions in the Taj Trapezium Zone, spread over 10,400 sq km. Pixabay

Shifting orders for dairies, dhobi ghats, cremation sites, petha units, have been shelved. Transport companies emitting pollutants on the Yamuna Kinara Road, have not been shifted either.

The National Green Tribunal has been struggling with its orders on clearing encroachments on Yamuna flood-plains. After four years of dilly-dallying even the boundaries of the flood plains have not been clearly demarcated, the campaigners complain.

Vested interests had colluded to usurp precious land in the eco-sensitive Soor Sarovar area along the river, they alleged.

A public meeting, held on Sunday night at the Etmadudaullah viewpoint park here along the river, was attended by environmentalists, heritage conservationists and green activists, who collectively lamented the apathy of elected Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha members towards the Yamuna, the lifeline of the city.

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River Connect campaigners said the drying and highly polluted Yamuna was a constant threat to the safety of Mughal monuments like the Taj Mahal and Etmadudaullah, whose foundations need continuous moisture and a pollution free ambience.

In a resolution, the activists reminded Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkiri of his promise to start a ferry service for tourists between Delhi and Agra. In his recent election campaign speech at the Agra College ground, BJP President Amit Shah had promised that Yamuna cleaning would be taken up as a top priority after the elections.

Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken of steps to save the Yamuna.

Having announced the construction of a barrage downstream of the Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has suddenly developed cold feet, speakers at the conference alleged.

Agra, Heritage Sites, Pollution
The air pollution level continues to remain alarming, affecting both humans and stones. Pixabay

The river activists also demanded a comprehensive National Rivers Policy and a Central Rivers Authority.

Green activist Shravan Kumar Singh said that despite persistent demands, so far no initiative had been taken to desilt and dredge the river bed, which had become hard owing to pollutants, preventing seepage and percolation of water.

Environmentalist Chaturbhuj Tiwari said: “Though the Supreme Court had categorically directed ban on entry of cattle in the river and shifting of dhobis (washermen) polluting the river, no effort has been made by the district authorities in this direction.”

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The conference called for a white paper on the expenses incurred by various government agencies on cleaning the Yamuna between Delhi and Agra. A resolution passed urged all NGOs, voluntary groups and environmentalists to come on a common platform to launch a broader people’s movement to save India’s rivers and other water bodies. (IANS)

Next Story

Reduction in Air Pollution May Increase Life-Expectancy: Study

Findings of a Research indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution

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Pollution
Fortunately, reducing air Pollution can result in prompt and substantial health gains. Pixabay

Reductions in Air Pollution yielded fast and dramatic impacts on health-outcomes, as well as decreases in all-cause morbidity, a new study suggests.

The study, published in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society, reviewed interventions that have reduced air pollution at its source. It looked for outcomes and time to achieve those outcomes in several settings, finding that the improvements in health were striking.

Starting at week one of a ban on smoking in Ireland, for example, there was a 13 per cent drop in all-cause mortality, a 26 per cent reduction in ischemic heart disease, a 32 per cent reduction in stroke, and a 38 per cent reduction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Interestingly, the greatest benefits in that case occurred among non-smokers.

“We knew there were benefits from pollution control, but the magnitude and relatively short time duration to accomplish them were impressive,” said lead author Dean Schraufnagel from the American Thoracic Society in the US.

“Our findings indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution. It’s critical that governments adopt and enforce WHO guidelines for air pollution immediately,” Schraufnagel added.

Pollution
Reductions in Air Pollution yielded fast and dramatic impacts on health-outcomes, as well as decreases in all-cause morbidity, a new study suggests. Pixabay

According to the researchers, In the US a 13-month closure of a steel mill in Utah resulted in reducing hospitalisations for pneumonia, pleurisy, bronchitis and asthma by half.

School absenteeism decreased by 40 per cent, and daily mortality fell by 16 per cent for every 100 µg/m3 PM10 (a pollutant) decrease.

Women who were pregnant during the mill closing were less likely to have premature births.

A 17-day ‘transportation strategy,’ in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1996 Olympic Games involved closing parts of the city to help athletes make it to their events on time, but also greatly decreased air pollution.

In the following four weeks, children’s visits for asthma to clinics dropped by more than 40 per cent and trips to emergency departments by 11 per cent. Hospitalizations for asthma decreased by 19 per cent.

WHO
Findings of the Study indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution. It’s critical that governments adopt and enforce WHO guidelines for air pollution immediately. Wikimedia Commons

Similarly, when China imposed factory and travel restrictions for the Beijing Olympics, lung function improved within two months, with fewer asthma-related physician visits and less cardiovascular mortality.

“Fortunately, reducing air pollution can result in prompt and substantial health gains. Sweeping policies affecting a whole country can reduce all-cause mortality within weeks,” Schraufnagel said.

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Local programmes, such as reducing traffic, have also promptly improved many health measures, said the study. (IANS)