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The National Green Tribunal has slapped fines on Uttar Pradesh government and its agencies for not filing their responses on a plea of an NGO alleging that large-scale burning of municipal solid waste in Agra was turning the Taj Mahal yellow.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar slammed the state authorities for not filing their replies and slapped a fine of Rs 20,000 each on UP government, its ministry of urban development and planning, Agra Nagar Nigm and the District Magistrate to be paid to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
"No reply has been filed on behalf of these respondents. Last opportunity is granted to file the reply. Let reply be filed within two weeks subject to payment of Rs 20,000 each as cost to CPCB," the bench said.
The green panel also issued notices to the Nagar Palika Parishads of Bah, Fatehpur Sikri, Achchnera, Shamsabad, Etmadpur, Fatehabad and Pinahat localities in the vicinity.
Besides Nagar Palika Parishads, it also issued notices to Nagar Panchayats of Jagner, Dayalbagh, Kheragarh, Swamibagh and Kirawali areas.
The order came on a plea filed by NGO Social Action for Forest and Environment (SAFE), which claimed a joint study by IIT-Kanpur, Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Wisconsin had revealed that "brown and black carbons along with dust" were responsible for giving a yellow tinge to the 17th century white marble monument.
"Subsequent to the report, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment passed several directions to the Agra administration to curb pollution in the city. According to a study carried out by Ajay Nagpure, the burning of municipal solid waste (MSW) releases a high amount of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), which is responsible for damaging the aesthetics of a culturally important monument like the Taj Mahal," the plea said.
It said one of the major threats to the Taj Mahal was the high level of particulate matter (PM) which was being released into air due to large scale burning of MSW in the city.
The plea contends that civic bodies in Agra were blatantly violating Solid Waste Management Rules as more than 2000 metric tonnes of solid waste per day was being dumped in various part of the city besides plastic waste which was being consumed by stray animals.