PROJECT TO BEAUTIFY TAJ MAHAL
What’s in news?
A proposal by the Uttar Pradesh government to construct a barrage across the Yamuna is stuck between two expert committees of the Union Environment Ministry.
- Cleaning of Yamuna is also part of the Namami Gange Mission and Government of India has been supplementing the efforts of the States for checking the rising level of pollution of river Yamuna, a tributary of River Ganga, by providing financial assistance to States of Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh in phased manner since 1993 under the Yamuna Action Plan (YAP)
- The Uttar Pradesh government formed two committee, consisting of eminent experts, to improve infrastructure and long-term sustainability of the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra.
- Each committee, thinks that it’s the other panel that should be taking a call on the future of the project, a perusal of the public records of meetings and discussions in the Ministry shows.
- The project of the Irrigation Department envisages construction of a barrage for “securing the foundation of the Taj Mahal, improving the water level at Agra, beautifying and navigating the Yamuna at 1.50 km downstream of the Taj Mahal.”
- That stretch of the Yamuna is a National Waterway (Delhi to Allahabad) and the barrage would serve as an alternative to motorised transport and would also help to develop a green belt around the pond which would “improve the environment around the Taj Mahal.
- Benefit of constructing the Barrages: It would recharge the ground water and facilitate navigation through river routes.
- In 1909, when the water quality of both the two important rivers of the country, Ganga and Yamuna, was tested, the Yamuna river water was considered as “clear blue”, compared to the water of river Ganga, which was considered silt-laden yellow.
- A century later, Yamuna river is rated to be the dirtiest and most polluted river of the country, especially around New Delhi, the Capital of India.
- Rapid industrialisation, urbanisation and population growth have all contributed to the increased level of pollution in the Yamuna river in Delhi, which dumps around 58% of its waste into the river.
- A discussion on the scheme first began at the Union Environment Ministry on October 11 last year.
- A committee led by Satish Wate, former Director of the CSIR-National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, ruled that the project ought to be evaluated by the Environment Appraisal Committee.
- This committee, on February 27, held that the project did not involve hydropower generation or irrigation and therefore was better suited for another Environment Ministry committee, the one on infrastructure projects and known as the EAC.
- On May 27, as minutes of a meeting held by the EAC show, committee members concluded that the project involved the development of a “conventional” barrage and the components in the proposal primarily fall under the jurisdiction of EAC looking after construction of dams/barrages/river valley projects, since they have experts from the relevant fields who can better appraise the proposal and suggests suitable environmental safeguards/mitigation measures.
Other measures taken by government to conserve Polluted River:
- The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has formed a Central Monitoring Committee to prepare and enforce a national plan to make over 350 river stretches pollution free across the country. River pollution has caused a serious threat to the safety of water and environment.
- The Uttarakhand High Court has recognized the Ganga and Yamuna Rivers as so-called living entities. It is for the first time any court in India has recognized a non-human as a living entity.