Saturday April 20, 2019
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Taj city’s rank slips as it remains dirty

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Agra: Previously ranked at 27, the Taj city has lost the race to be included in smart cities and slipped to 47/73 in the Swachh Sarvekshan drive.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ (Clean India Mission) appears to have run aground in Agra and made no discernible change to the city’s profile or the upkeep of basic amenities.

“This, when the city is ranked the number one tourist destination in the country, visited by more than 10 million people annually,” social activist Shravan Kumar Singh said.

The Agra Municipal Corporation is now working on a new plan to clean up the mess, introducing night cleaning of markets.

Municipal commissioner Indra Vikram Singh said initially a dozen bazars will be cleaned every Saturday night. Later this would be expanded to other areas of the city. The sanitary supervisors of the municipal wards have been equipped with cameras to enable them to upload photographs of the cleanliness work done.

“The reason why the city remains so dirty and disorganised is because of the wrong priorities of the government. The officials spend more time on organising fairs and festivals than on getting the basics fixed,” activist Ranjan Sharma said.

“This month, the city hosts a literature festival, a national golf tournament, a car race, the Taj Mahotsava, the literary colloquium and a whole lot of other activities. Cleaning up the city and streamling the traffic management plan, or improving the law and order situation, are nowhere on the priority list,” he added.

Local politicians have no role to play in cleaning up the city or the Yamuna river. On paper, public toilets have been opened but in large parts of the city, people still defecate in the open, along the drains.

“As you enter the city, a strange stink or odour hits you and never leaves your company till you leave the city,” a visitor from Mysuru, Jagan Gupta said.

Mysuru tops the list of India’s cleanest cities in the current list. Though the Modi government claims to have built eight million toilets in 2015, India continues to have the highest number of people estimated at 595 million defecating in the open.

The first question many foreign tourists ask while closing in on Taj Mahal is: Why does this whole area stink?

Tourists from other parts too have felt “the whole city of Agra has an unusual stink or odour. We don’t know what the reason is, but it is there like the urban clusters are perched on mounds of shit,” a foreign visitor retorted recently.

“Elsewhere they roll out a red carpet for guests. In Agra, you have permanently animal dung splashed roads and a stink in the air welcoming people. Little wonder no one wants to stay back for the night in Agra,” Surendra Sharma, President of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society said.

Environmentalists in the city blame the Yamuna river, which has been reduced to a huge sewage canal for want of fresh water.

“The city’s sewer system is choked, the treatment plants are not working. In many localities waste water, including sewerage, is being directly pumped into the earth through borewells,” said emporium owner and handicrafts exporter Abhinav Jain.

“Methane is being generated from huge mountains of garbage piled up everywhere as there is no proper and scientific system in place for its disposal. Hospital waste is also callously littered around. You have the dairies and cattle herds freely loitering around. No wonder foul and noxious gases are being released into the atmosphere,” he added.

In the Taj Ganj area around the Taj Mahal, there are hundreds of horse-drawn tongas. Now there are also camel carts.

“The animals litter around. You can see the condition of the roads, all splashed up with dung that gets stuck up on the shoes and is transported inside the monument. Dairies in the Taj Ganj area have not been shifted. So you have the spectacle of cattle merrily crossing the road at the Eastern Gate of the Taj Mahal. The cattle fights are joined in by barking dogs almost daily,” Jain rued.(IANS)

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Glory to PM Modi and Country Angers Certain Forces

A few months back, the UN as well has crowned him with the Champions of the Earth, the highest environmental honor

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A few months back, the UN as well has crowned him with the Champions of the Earth, the highest environmental honor.

By: Salil Gewali

Many will not disagree that the PM Modi is fairly unpopular among a certain popular elite within the country. However, he has earned an immeasurable number of admirers outside the country. The fact why he is an eyesore for certain groups of people and celebrities while they are bowled over and ever supportive of specific dull-witted and inexperienced leaders is something very weird and contrasting. This phenomenon defies the long-held assumption that “education” makes one rational and free from the psychological shortfall. Nevertheless, PM Modi is least bothered what his smart detractors think and do against him.  He hardly wishes evil upon anyone. He has multiple of reasons to stay buoyed and cheery. The flood of praises coming from outside the country has always swelled PM Modi’s chest. Therefore, even in the foreign soil he goes, without a hitch, shouting at full throttle —‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.  

Truly, it’s totally wrong to ignore many achievements associated with PM Modi. Yes, he has been chosen to be honored with the highest civilian award – Order of Zayed by the UAE government.  Not just that, the countries like Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Palestine also have come forward to honor the Indian PM with their respective highest awards. A few months back, the UN as well has crowned him with the Champions of the Earth, the highest environmental honor. His unfaltering dedication and devotion to execute formulated policies and planes have yielded positive results, though some section of powerful people try to undermine and demean them all.

modi
Modi government has been able to pull off many thorny external affairs and issues too quickly.

What is most attractive in PM Modi is that he is smartly clever to strike the personal kinship with any individual foreign leaders and diplomats. Yes, due to his personal touch and warmth, the Modi government has been able to pull off many thorny external affairs and issues too quickly. Of course, this is doubtlessly praiseworthy. Yes, good truths should be not suppressed and falsehood should not be exaggerated.

However, a very strange vibe is noticed in the country. It is nothing but an unenthusiastic silence maintained by the popular media when Modi receives some accolades and appreciation. Many choose not to mention it at all, not even as news-item. This all makes everything all the more conspicuous. Well, this, in fact, only prompts the swarm of netizens to be more active in social media, their battlefields. They are seen furiously vocal. The ranting, raving, and name-calling against the backdrop of the importance given to a certain class of leaders make the situation less pleasant and logical. Not just that people in the social media are quick to throw up contrasting examples citing how media goes gaga over a “less intelligent lot” while keeping deafening silence over things that bring glory and fame to the nation. This is doubtlessly a bizarre development. This way the detractors or opponents always run the risk of losing their own integrity.

ALSO READ: Modi Suggests Pakistan to Stop Exporting Terror for Peace

A business done by sacrificing integrity ends up in disaster. Opposition to ideas and political parties is always welcome, which is democratic, but the biased attitude against the “truth” and positivity can only dilute the sanctity of the enterprise and professionalism. As concerned citizens, should we not first want that the light of glory and joy dispel the gloom of darkness and despair in the country? Let’s not waste our precious life by struggling to call the untruth as truth and vice versa. This exercise only contributes to polluting our mindset and the country becomes less peaceful and more vulnerable.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great Minds on India’.

Twitter:  @SGewali