Nature lovers and green activists on Friday raised an alarm over grave consequences of global warming and climate change at the Earth Day celebrations in the Taj city.
At a function held at the Paliwal Park, organised by Eco Club of Agra, politicians joined environmentalists to warn of serious consequences of untamed profit-motivated industrialisation and haphazard urbanisation which were responsible for the deteriorating quality of life and threats to health.
Club president Pradip said: "Agra which should have been a model of planned urban growth and cleaner environment is struggling to contain the rising levels of air and water pollution, despite hundreds of crores spent in past three decades to make the city safe for heritage monuments."
Environmentalist Devashish Bhattacharya said: "Agra's life line Yamuna was diseased and almost dead. The sky is filled with desert sand and silt from the dry river, compounded further by emissions from rising number of vehicles."
Earth day was celebrated by several voluntary organisations and students groups across the city to raise awareness about the grim challenges and threats to Earth and its environment.
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Members of the River Connect Campaign debated how they could restore balance among nature's five chief components (panch-tatva). Deepak Rajpoot said time had come to reduce wants, recycle products and discourage the western "use and throw culture." Pandit Jugal Kishor said water had to be saved through judicious use. Chaturbhuj Tiwari stressed on water-harvesting which should now be made compulsory in all urban areas. Rahul Raj said "municipalities were encouraging concretisation of pavements and wide use of interlocking cement tiles which prevented seepage and percolation of rain water."
Eco Club members demanded political parties to specifically commit themselves to measures that would restore a happy balance with nature and prevent further degradation of environment. School children took out a rally holding posters with catchy slogans.
Sri Nathji Nishulk Jal Sewa, voluntary group run by Bankey Lal Maheshwari, which runs a network of water huts in the city, asked people to conserve the fast depleting water resource. "Each drop needed to be saved for posterity," Maheshwari said.
Local Environmentalists have expressed deep concern at the increasing number of vehicles in the urban limits adding to the overall pollution load. The suspended particulate matter (SPM) level continues to be much higher than the permissible limit of 100 micrograms per cubic metre. Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide levels were also rising according to data released by the state pollution control board for the Taj Trapezium zone.
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The depleting green cover around Agra continues to pose a serious threat to the health of the Taj Mahal as does the polluted Yamuna river. "Despite world-wide alarm and concern by international agencies, nothing concrete has been done to insulate the world heritage monument, the 17th century monument of love, from dust and smog," Sonal Mittal Singh of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society said.