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Local environmentalists protest the move to reduce eco-sensitive zone around the Taj Mahal

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Agra: Local environmentalists on Wednesday again voiced their opposition to the Uttar Pradesh government’s move to reduce the eco-sensitive zone limit around Sur Sarovar or Keetham Lake from ten km to just 250 metres.

In an unanimous resolution passed at a conference held at Youth Hostel Hall in the city, the green brigade warned of dangerous consequences of what it called a “suicidal step”.

“The eco-sensitive zone acts as a buffer for the Taj Mahal against toxic gases released by Mathura Refinery. The green belt has halted the march of desert towards Agra. The dense forest also filters dust-laden westerlies going towards Taj Trapezium Zone,” the resolution contended.

The green activists have been holding meetings and staging dharnas for the past 10 days ever since Divisional Commissioner, Pradip Bhatnagar, asked District Magistrate, Pankaj Kumar, to forward to the state government a proposal to reduce the forest area on the Agra-Delhi national highway.

“The issue has been examined. Keetham lies in the TTZ area where polluting units are already banned. There is no need for (imposing) unnecessary limits which may further enhance the arbitrariness of forest authorities,” Bhatnagar told a media outlet.

The Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) comprises of the 10,400 sq km area around the Taj Mahal to protect the monument from pollution. Over 40 protected monuments – including World Heritage Sites of the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri – come under the zone. It has been named so since it is located around the Taj Mahal and is shaped like a trapezoid.

Union Environment and Forests Minister, Prakash Javedkar, last week assured a delegation of Eco-activists that the state government’s proposal would be studied by a panel of experts and only then, a final decision will be taken, Sur Sarovar Van Kshetra Bachao Samiti president, Goswami Murari Lal Sharma, said.

The minister agreed to review the circumstances under which the limits of the famous Sur Sarovar bird sanctuary and Ramsar wetland at Keetham was sought to be reduced to 250 metres, said Devashish Bhattacharya, a member of the delegation.

While those who have purchased land for industries or multi-storeyed apartments in the area are happy, the greens are incensed over the “unwise” decision of the district authorities.(IANS)

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President Ram Nath Kovind Pays His Condolences to Former UN Chief Kofi Annan

Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the UN in 2001 "for their work for a better organised and more peaceful world".

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India condoles former UN chief Kofi Annan's death.
India condoles former UN chief Kofi Annan's death. Flickr

India on Saturday condoled the death of former UN Secretary General and Nobel laureate Kofi Annan with President Ram Nath Kovind expressing his condolences to the former Ghanaian diplomat’s family and the UN community as a whole.

“Sorry to learn of the passing of former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan,” Kovind said on the Rashtrapati Bhavan Twitter handle.

“My condolences to his family and to the UN community,” he stated.

Annan, 80, died on Saturday in Switzerland after a short illness, with his wife and three children by his side.

“It is with immense sadness that the Annan family and the Kofi Annan Foundation announce that the former Secretary General of the UN and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away peacefully on Saturday 18th August after a short illness,” his family said.

Kofi Annan
Annan was the first black African to take up the role of the world’s top diplomat, serving two terms from 1997 to 2006. Flickr

Annan was the first black African to take up the role of the world’s top diplomat, serving two terms from 1997 to 2006. He later served as the UN special envoy for Syria, leading efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

He also led a UN commission to investigate the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar.

The Myanmar government led by Aung San Suu Kyi supported Annan’s recommendations on the crisis in the country’s Rakhine State.

Also Read: New AI Model to Identify the Risk of Heart Disease in Indians

Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the UN in 2001 “for their work for a better organised and more peaceful world”.

His tenure as the UN chief coincided with the Iraq war and the HIV/Aids pandemic. (IANS)