The ministry of environment constituted a six-member high-level committee to identify air polluting and non-air-polluting industries in Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) area. It was constituted post a recent Supreme Court verdict on the conservation of the Taj Mahal. The report will be submitted by October 31st.
SC strictly come down on the Centre and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as they are not able to protect the monument. So, it asked the union government to form the committee to take the matter of industrial pollution seriously. The warning has also been issued by the apex court that it would shut it down the Mughal structure.
Taj Trapezium Zone TTZ is called to an area spread in about 10,400 sq km which covers the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur district of Rajasthan. In 1996, Supreme Court ordered that there would be no further expansion of industries in TTZ. However, the restrictions on over two dozen industries in Agra remain only on paper.
Among all, one such industry is the glass industry in Agra. National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) revealed that the level of harmful PM10 and PM2.5 has exceeded the minimum level by double on a daily basis. Also, nitrogen dioxide had crossed the basic level. Whereas in some parts, PM10 is recorded up to 40%. Till 2017, there were a total of 202 glass factories in Firozabad.
As per Prof. Arun Sawant, Director - India, Waste to Energy Research and Technology Council, President, Society for the Clean environment (SOCLEEN), “Only a few are aware of air and water pollution caused by glass manufacturing. Production of glass depletes the huge amount of water and sand and requires a high amount of heat. The manufacturing process releases highly polltuing oxides of Sulphur and Nitrogen into the air causing serious environmental degradation. It causes severe damage to the local air and water ecosystem. To safeguard the Taj Mahal from further degradation, it is essential to shift all the factories and foundries from its vicinity."
The manufacturing of Glass is affecting the environment the health of people working in the industry as well. Workers who are employed as glass-workers face the threat of Silicosis. Dr. SP Bhardwaj, a leading Pulmonologist, Agra said, "Silicosis is one of the oldest occupational diseases that afflict workmen exposed to silica dust. In small towns, the illness is not easily identified and is still being diagnosed. Silicosis is a progressive condition, if any worker experience cough, breathing difficulty or weakness, he/she should immediately consult a doctor. Since no specific treatment options are available for treating the illness, the patient must be removed immediately from the bad work environment. Also, people working in the foundries, mining, and glass industry should wear protective gear to minimize the risk of Silicosis."