World Environment Day celebration initiated with the action plan for the Taj Mahal, Agra

5 June is World Environment Day. Let’s look at one of the major environmental problems that we have in India, Air Pollution. One of its major results is the deterioration of the Taj Mahal, Agra. Acid rain is the most dangerous for the monument. The excess emission of sulphuric oxide, due to abundant vehicles, causes this rain. This rain colours the monument yellow, tarnishing it and attacks the most fragile part: the sculptures and stone carvings.

In honour of the environment day celebration, a comprehensive action plan was launched in Agra. The plan covers vehicle emission control, suspension of road dust, emission control like biomass, crop residue, garbage and municipal solid waste burning, industrial emissions, air pollution from construction and demolition activities and monitoring of air quality, among many.

The city’s tourism has also had a major downfall for the past few years due to the aggravated air pollution. The Supreme Court of India had directed the government to take measures to control the Agra’s growing air pollution. The Senior Officials present at the launch of the plan emphasised the importance of laying the proper roadmap for other Indian cities in decreasing the air pollution.

In the fight against pollution, people should move towards decentralised solutions. The organisational structure at various levels in the form of a responsibility matrix should also be a key to implementation. This was discussed by Anup Chandra Pandey, Chief Secretary, Uttar Pradesh; as quoted by The United Nations Environment.

The United Nations Environment (UNE) reported that Keshav Verma, advisor to the government of Uttar Pradesh spoke about the growing problems of urbanisation and air pollution. He shared that ‘The blue water and blue-sky approach’ of Beijing is a good example and that they have the full capability to implement their activities with the same spirit. He requested the Chief Secretary to also set up a committee for the monitoring of the action plan.

In order to cut the vehicular emissions in Uttar Pradesh, they plan to introduce 650 electric buses, out of which more than 100 have already started to be in use. Various private sector companies had offered their support to decrease the various levels of pollution.

In the increasing problem of mounting plastic in Agra, The UNE reported that The Massive fund had proposed a project of $30 million under the Alliance to End Plastic, to eliminate more than 90% plastic in Agra. Waste management firm Geocycle further has proposed to initiate a technology to clean up the Yamuna river in Agra. Kanoria Industries plans to invest ₹15,000 crore for the sustainability activities happening in the city.

The UNE reported that Atul Bagai, Head of the UN Environment, India said that the action plan is a huge changing step towards systematically combatting the air pollution. Preventive actions and local scale compliance enforcement tools, uniquely designed as an agreement between local government and the private sector, could contribute significantly to the implementation of the plan in the long run.

The Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate launched ‘The National Clean Air Programme’ earlier this year to meet the prescribed annual average ambient air quality standards for 102 non- attainment Indian cities by 2025. Agra city is one of them. The Agra action plan can guide other cities into incorporating strategies to overcome the increasing air pollution and its health and environment risks.

Let’s hope that with this action plan, India awaits a better environment and people become responsible for their surroundings and lifestyle.

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