Monday March 25, 2019
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Yamuna activists march to warn of threat to Taj Mahal

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Rubbish collected on the banks of the Yamuna River, next to the Taj Mahal. Agra, India.

Agra: Activists and environmentalists here marched to demand release of water from upstream barrages to sustain the ecology of Yamuna and provide moisture to the foundation of the Taj Mahal.

Highlighting the grave threat to the Taj Mahal from a dry Yamuna river bed, activists marched in a procession Sunday night from Haathi Ghat, near the Agra Fort to the Etmauddaula viewpoint park, raising slogans to demand the release of water.

Last week at a conference in Agra, architects and conservationists warned of serious threat to the foundation of the Taj Mahal due to the dry river.

An artificial park developed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at the rear of the Taj had distanced the river by 100 yards.

A former IIT professor SC Handa had raised objections to the park warning it would prove dangerous to the foundation of the Taj.

As pointed out by eminent historian Professor R Nath, the foundation rests on sal wood beams which require constant moisture.

Historians have pointed out that the Taj Mahal rests on wooden planks and concrete foundation “which require constantly enough moisture”, environmentalist Dr Devashish Bhattacharya said.

The river remains dry for most part of the year, as water flow is captivated by Haryana and Delhi government denying downstream cities their claim to the river water, he added.

Speakers demanded a barrage on Yamuna for Agra city’s growing water needs. Shravan Kumar Singh, a conservationist said the barrage will be able to provide enough moisture to the foundation of the Taj.

Dr Anand Rai, president of India Rising, an NGO, said river police squads should be activated to keep an eye on polluters. The drains and sewer drains opening into the river have to be tapped.

For far too long Yamuna had been neglected. “So far there have only been promises and no action. We can no longer wait. Citizens of Agra are angry and frustrated,” said Jyoti, Charmayne Tiwari, Anita Yadav, women activists of the River Connect Campaign.

Earlier, activists of half a dozen organisations working for Yamuna met in Vrindavan to demand a Yamuna River Basin Commission to plan, execute and monitor various projects for the cleaning and conservation of the river.

 

(IANS)

Next Story

Catapults To Protect Tourists At The Taj From Simian Attacks

The biggest threat to the security of tourists comes from monkeys and there are hundreds of them waiting to pounce upon unsuspecting visitors.

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The Taj Mahal attracts not only foreign, but domestic tourists too; Source: Pixabay

Tourists visiting the Taj Mahal will now be under safety cover of catapults to scare rampaging monkeys who have been injuring visitors at an alarming frequency.

A group of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) troopers are now seen with catapults and not licensed arms for use against terrorists and anti-social elements.

The biggest threat to the security of tourists comes from monkeys and there are hundreds of them waiting to pounce upon unsuspecting visitors, tourist guide Ved Gautam told IANS.

Almost daily a monkey bite case is being reported. Last month, the number of victims was 16. The Archaeological Society of India (ASI) has put up notice boards at several places warning tourists of monkeys.

taj mahal
Tourists visiting the Taj Mahal will now be under safety cover of catapults to scare rampaging monkeys who have been injuring visitors at an alarming frequency.

At 15 points, CISF personnel armed with catapults are ready to take slingshots at the simians who have turned ferocious.

“When they see a catapult aimed against them, the monkeys flee full speed for safety,” a trooper said.

CISF Commandant Braj Bhushan Singh said his men had been given catapults to scare away the monkeys and make tourists feel safe inside the Taj Mahal premises.

A number of plans have been drawn up by various government agencies including the Agra Municipal Corporation after a monkey snatched a baby from a mother’s lap and killed it some two months ago.

Catapults made of plastic and rubber were selling Rs 10 a piece but are now the price has gone up to Rs 20 due to increasing demand all over the city.

Vegetable vendors, temple security staff, shopkeepers and domestic servants are buying catapults.

TAJ MAHAL
Catapults to save tourists at the Taj from simian attacks

According to a rough estimate, the number of monkeys in the Agra city area is around 50,000.

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“Such a big population of simians can neither be provided for nor shifted as there are no forests left. Usually they return to urban areas even if they are transported to remote areas,” said an animal husbandry expert.

“The problem was earlier confined to Mathura and Vrindavan, but now they are all over the Agra city,” said Shravan Kumar Singh, a green activist.

Meanwhile, Naresh Kadyan, Chairman of the National Animal Welfare Party, has protested against the arming of CISF personnel with catapults. He has lodged a complaint with the union Environment and Forest Ministry citing provisions of the Wildlife Act. (IANS)