Green activists protest Agra landfill project

August 19th, 2008 - 10:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Agra, Aug 19 (IANS) Environmentalists and social activists here Tuesday warned of the dangers to river Yamuna and the heritage monuments of the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort due to a proposed Rs.1.75 billion landfill project to process solid waste to produce fuel.At a public hearing, they said similar projects had failed in other parts of India. “If need be, it can be located at a safer place after conducting proper environmental impact studies,” said Bahadur Singh, chief of the village council heads association.

“The Kuberpur Landfill site is dangerously close to the Taj Mahal and the Yamuna river, and is in the sensitive Taj Trapezium Zone (a 10,400 sq km area around the monument)… Environmental impact assessment studies are yet to be made and details of the project still to be worked out,” said environmentalist Ravi Singh.

P.K. Jain of the Agra Citizens Council said the Supreme Court has already issued a categorical directive that the garbage had to be segregated at the source. “Without complying with this mandate how can the district authorities go ahead with a project of this nature.”

The project is to be executed by a Mumbai-based firm Hanjer Biotech Energies. Firm representative Irfan Furniturewala said his company had adopted the latest techniques and was successful in running similar projects in Mumbai and Gujarat.

The project envisages setting up a compost plant of 350 tonnes daily capacity for converting biodegradable waste into humus like organic fertiliser/soil enricher for use in agriculture.

President of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society, Surendra Sharma, said the production of methane gas, release of dioxins and heavy discharges of wastes would cause damage to the environment around the Taj Mahal.

Environmental engineer Dinkar Saxena alleged that the established norms were being bypassed as the government agencies were in a great hurry to rush through the project

Shailesh, an activist, pointed out that the Kuberpur Landfill site slopes towards the Yamuna. “This means all the liquid wastes would automatically flow into the river which is just 200 metres away through the dense green cover that supports rich fauna.”

Asked about the project, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board official Rajeev Upadhyaya said all aspects of the pollution problem were being addressed and only when everyone was satisfied would the project go ahead.

The protesting activists said they had serious reservations about the utility, viability and practicality of the project. They said river Yamuna was already highly polluted and would have to bear additional pollution from the washing of garbage and wastes seeping into the soil.

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