Judicial activism to check pollution of no avail as Agra’s AQI stands at 500 plus

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Even after three decades of judicial activism by the Supreme Court and expenditure of thousands of crores of rupees on pollution abatement schemes, the overall situation in the 10,400 sq km eco-sensitive Taj Trapezium Zone remains alarming as the Taj city is grappling with 500 plus AQI.

“The city is akin to a gas chamber. The Yamuna is already dead with choking foam and toxics, and the air pollution level has gone alarmingly high,” observed environmentalist Devashish Bhattacharya.

For a week now, the air pollution level has remained extremely high with dangerous concentrations of toxic gases, fumes, vehicular emissions, burning of garbage, the clandestine running of ‘petha’ units using coal which were banned by the Supreme Court in 1996, Bhattacharya added.

The UP Pollution Control Board has ritualistically shot off notices to polluters. It has asked the development authority, the highway authority, and the Metro project authority to take appropriate steps to control air pollution, but the results are still awaited.

Agra District Magistrate PN Singh has released an advisory asking senior citizens and those with ailments to stay at home, and not to venture out as the dust level was very high.

For three days in a row, smog has enveloped the city. You hardly get to see the sun. It is so suffocating, noted green activist associated with SPHEEHA, Shabd Mishra.

The administration must immediately take drastic steps to curb pollution, Mishra added.

Not only Agra, Firozabad, Mathura districts, part of the Taj Trapezium, are experiencing an alarmingly high level of air pollution.

Hundreds of vehicles will enter Vrindavan Wednesday evening for the ‘Braj Raj Mahotsava’ which is to be inaugurated by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Over the years, following its intervention in the PIL filed by MC Mehta, the Supreme Court has been directly involved and has been monitoring the progress of pollution control measures in the TTZ but the result remains zero.

“Condition has actually gone the worse from bad,” says green activist Sonal Mittal Singh.

Raman, a member of the Supreme Court monitoring committee, has shot off a long letter to the chairman of the Taj Trapezium Zone authority, listing more than ten failures.

Rajiv Gupta, former president of the National Chamber of Industries and Commerce, said “political willpower is missing and there is a huge lack of civic sense.”

Senior Supreme Court advocate KC Jain said “It has been a dismal failure of the district administration. Politicians must wake up and address these serious issues.”

The failure of the nine BJP legislators from Agra and three MPs has come into sharp focus, as people are now beginning to target them ahead of the coming elections.

“Yamuna is dying. Agra is in a terrible mess. The apex court started in right earnest to contain pollution in Agra, but somewhere on the way the Supreme Court itself has lost interest in the Taj Trapezium Zone, which was once held as a model of India’s serious commitment to battle pollution,” said members of the River Connect Campaign.

–IANS

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