Agra’s anti-polythene drive faces trouble

January 7th, 2011 - 6:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Agra, Jan 7 (IANS) The Taj Mahal city’s bid to clean itself of the polythene menace has hit a roadblock.Under criticism for the piles of garbage all over the city, the Agra Municipal Corporation launched an ambitious anti-polythene campaign only a week ago.

In this short period, a health official who wanted to mend the ways of the locals has been attacked. And plastic dealers, who will be hurt by the drive, are protesting the green move.

On Thursday, a team of corporation officials led by health officer O.P. Sharma was attacked in the Fountain area by a group of shopkeepers, Sharma said in his police complaint.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders along with plastic and polythene dealers met a senior official to complain against the campaign.

Pramod Gupta, who led the delegation, ranted against “the high-handedness of the corporation officials”.

The Plastic Dealers Association observed a strike Friday.

But not everyone in Agra, about 200 km south of New Delhi, is with them.

Several corporators feel that a handful of people, backed by politicians with vested interests, were trying to derail the campaign.

“Obviously these politicians get paid by interest groups and commercial associations. So they are ignoring the larger interests of the community,” alleged social activist Sudhir Gupta.

More than 20 NGOs and public institutions have come out in support of the green drive, which they say is showing results.

“Already polythene has disappeared from the markets. Sweet shops and vegetable sellers are not using polythene in the main bazaars. Others are scared. This is a great achievement,” said Ambar Vishal, director of NGO Sankalp.

The sewage-stricken Yamuna river and the polythene-choked drains had become an eyesore in Agra, whose 17th century Taj Mahal is India’s biggest tourist draw.

A focussed action plan, which included a mammoth human chain for an eco-cause, galvanised citizens groups, NGOs, government officials as well as the 85-odd corporators to unite in a bid to make Agra clean and somewhat worthy of its most beautiful monument - Taj Mahal.

Agra Municipal Commissioner Vinay Shankar Pandey told IANS that “the campaign against polythene and plastic waste will continue with full vigour.

“The city has to be made cleaner and worthy of its heritage monuments. Already the results are beginning to be noticed.”

More than 100 quintals of polythene bags have been donated by retailers to charity, an official said.

Each day, corporation workers seize polythene bags from markets.

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