New Delhi: The Ministry of Culture held a high level stakeholders’ workshop on the Taj Mahal in Agra today. Chaired by the Minister of State (I/C) of Culture and Minister of State for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Dr. Mahesh Sharma, the meeting was called to discuss the issues of pollution around Taj Mahal with a focus on drawing short term and long term measures to deal with the problem and to protect the Taj from environment pollution. The meeting was attended by DG, ASI, Smt Usha Sharma; Additional Secretary,M/o Environment, Forest & Climate Change Shri A. K Mehta, representatives of State Government, local administration , local administration of neighbouring districts to Agra, local MPs, MLAs, representatives of UNEP, Central Pollution Control Board and other stakeholders from the public, industry, environmentalists etc.
The meeting was followed by the Taj Declaration to ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ made at a press conference, in which a pledge was taken to make areas around the Taj Mahal upto 500 metres around the historic monument litter free and taking immediate steps to reduce single-use plastic near and around the Taj Mahal. The pledge was taken in the presence of Dr Mahesh Sharma; Executive Director of UNEP, Mr Erik Solheim; UNEP Goodwill ambassador and actress Ms Diya Mirza; local MPs, MLAs, local administration among others.
Addressing mediapersons, Dr Mahesh Sharma said that India as well as the whole world is today facing the problem of pollution caused by excess plastic use. It is an historic moment that the message of Beat Plastic Pollution is being given from the iconic monument Taj Mahal not only to the people of Agra and the country but to the whole world. Dr Mahesh Sharma added that it is the dream of the Prime Minister , Shri Narendra Modi to achieve a Swachch Bharat . It is an appropriate occasion to spread Prime Minister’s message from the Taj Mahal to reduce plastic use, re-use it, recycle plastic, re-collect, re-design and re-manufacture it and to demonstrate our commitment to reduction of pollution caused by plastic, Dr Mahesh Sharma elaborated. He further added that the Government is committed to wholistic development of Agra in which the Centre, the state, local administration and all agencies will work under single umbrella and will also take along the common public of Agra in the process.
Mr Erik Stein of UNEP expressed happiness that the UN slogan of Beat Plastic Pollution for this year’s Environment Day is being highlighted from the Taj Mahal which is the global symbol of love. The coming together of the Centre, the state, local administration and all other stakeholders is heartening and hoped that Agra will soon take the shape of a smart , green city with commitment of all.
Ms Diya Mirza also expressed happiness that all agencies together are taking forward the message of pollution free Taj Mahal which will also send a strong message to the world about harmful effects of plastic pollution. To bring down the negative impact of pollution, it is responsibility of each individual to reduce plastic use in our everyday life, she added.
Earlier, at the stakeholders’ consultations , constructive suggestions were made to reduce the pollution around the Taj and its damaging impact on the monument.
Dr Mahesh Sharma, Mr Erik Solheim and Ms Diya Mirza also participated in the Clean Yamuna Programme on the riverfront along the Taj along with representatives of various other agencies . This was followed by a quick tour of the Taj Mahal.