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| Last Updated:04/12/2018

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Agra: Activists protest shrinking eco zone near Taj

AGRA: Environmentalists and activists in the Taj city on Wednesday protested against state government's move to reduce the eco-sensitive zone area limits of the Soor Sarovar lake and forest from 10km to just 250 metres.

At a conference held at Youth Hostel hall here, the activists vehemently opposed the "suicidal" step, which would expose Taj Mahal to dangers of air pollution both from the Mathura Refinery and the neighbouring Rajasthan desert.

In a unanimous resolution, environmentalists warned of dangerous consequences if "a single blade of grass was axed".

"This eco-sensitive zone acts as a buffer insulating the Taj Mahal from the toxic gases released by Mathura Refinery. The green belt has successfully halted the march of the Rajasthani desert towards Agra. The dense forest filters the dust-laden westerlies coming through the gaps in the Aravali range towards the Taj Trapezium Zone," the resolution said.

Those who joined the protest included Dr K S Rana, head of the Botany department of Agra College, Dr Anand Rai (an ex-NASA scientist), advocate Ashok Chaubey, Eco-Club president Pradeep, Dr Devashish Bhattacharya, child rights activist Naresh Paras, vice president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society Shravan Kumar Singh.

Supreme Court monitoring committee member D K Joshi, a petitioner in the National Green Tribunal, presided over the conference.

Agra divisional commissioner Pradip Bhatnagar had on June 17 recommended reduction of the forest area around the Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary on the Agra-Delhi National Highway, from the original Supreme Court guideline of 10 km to just 250 metres.

He had asked district magistrate Pankaj Kumar to present a new proposal to be forwarded to the state government for approval.

"Everywhere green areas are being extended, but in Agra which is such an eco-sensitive area due to the Taj Mahal and other monuments, the authorities want the green cover reduced," said Shravan Kumar Singh, an activist said.