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NGT notice to centre, UP over polluted Yamuna staining Taj Mahal's white marbles

18 May 2016

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday issued notices to the centre and the Uttar Pradesh government seeking their replies on a petition filed by an environmental activist on staining (greenish-black pigmentation) of the white marble of Taj Mahal, due to severe pollution of River Yamuna.

The order came on the plea of environment activist and Agra resident DK Joshi who has claimed that dumping of waste in Yamuna has led to stagnation of the river and "consequently the explosive breeding of an insect called 'Chironomus Calligraphus' (Geoldichironomus), which is a biological indicator of water quality and localised water pollution."

Joshi, a resident of Agra, pointed to stagnation of water in the Yamuna as a result of rampant dumping of municipal solid waste in the river near the 17th century monument.

The NGT bench headed by chairman Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notices to the union ministry of environment and forests, Uttar Pradesh government, UP pollution control board, state environment impact assessment authority and others on a petition filed by the activist.

Joshi, in his petition, has pointed out that rampant dumping of municipal waste in the Yamuna has caused water to stagnate, leading to explosive breeding of insects called 'Chironomus Calligraphus' (Geoldichironomus), and consequent staining of the iconic structure, a UNESCO world heritage site.

The petition, filed through advocate Rahul Chaudhory, refers to a report of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) which states that these insects are staining the walls of the Taj Mahal greenish-black.

The petition also cited a preliminary report prepared by the School of Entymology, St John's School, Agra, which states that the presence of the insect was causing damage to the Taj Mahal. It also sought the constitution of a committee to look into the problem to prevent further damage to the river and the monument.

Meanwhile, a team from the World Bank on Monday visited the Taj Mahal and some adjoining villages at the rear of the monument across the Yamuna to assess plans for development projects in the area centering around tourism.

Principal Secretary (Information) Navneet Sehgal said the idea is a comprehensive development of the area behind the Taj Mahal in order to provide basic civic amenities for the tourists and benefit the villagers.

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