Polluting vehicles be restricted in Taj Trapezium Zone: UP Govt tells SC

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The Uttar Pradesh government today told the Supreme Court that plying of polluting and private vehicles in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) and traffic movement along entry and exit points in cities of tourist attractions such as Agra, Mathura, Vrindavan and Govardhan should be restricted. In its first draft report of a vision document on the protection and preservation of the iconic Taj Mahal filed in the apex court, the state said the unprecedented increase in the number of private vehicles, particularly two wheelers, needed to be curtailed with the objective of improving environmental quality. TTZ is an area of about 10,400 sq km spread over the districts of Agra, Firozabad, Mathura, Hathras and Etah in Uttar Pradesh and Bharatpur district of Rajasthan. The draft report suggested that a comprehensive traffic management plan, responsive to the large quantum of heritage dispersed all over Agra city, was needed to be prepared promoting pedestrian visitor movement in the heritage precincts. It said that plan should encourage visitors to travel on foot or use eco-friendly modes of transport and new movement routes should be designed for pedestrian movements. The draft report said that road widening schemes in the heritage precincts to accommodate increasing traffic needed to be prohibited. Restrict growth of polluting and private vehicles in the TTZ. Unprecedented increase in private vehicles particularly two wheeler needs to be curtailed with the objective of improving the environmental quality, the draft report said. It said that proper parking spaces should be made along the entry and exit points in major tourist destinations like Agra, Mathura, Vrindavan and Govardhan. It suggested that heritage documentation and mapping, rehabilitation and reuse of historic buildings and urban forms promoting sustainable management plan for the site should be prepared. The draft report said that in the Taj precincts, strict zoning should be there to restrict or prohibit all non-conforming activities along the Yamuna and access to the river and riverfront gardens needed to be improved. It said that the roads, presently running along the riverfront and cutting the city from the river, should be planned to have limited traffic to encourage pedestrian movement and to help recover the river-front garden landscape. A scientific landfill site to be identified and constructed outside the city with waste composting and waste to energy components added to it, it said, adding that tree cover needed to be increased in Agra city. It said that afforestation should be promoted in the TTZ by increasing the green areas through plantation of indigenous tress along all vehicular roads, open areas, public parks and parikrama routes. It said that riverfronts at Agra, Mathura and Vrindavan should be taken as first project for improvement of open space for surrounding local community and city at large. It said that provision for attractive public transport both for short and long term journeys should be provided. The study is a framework documents, limited by data made available within the time period, short field visits and rapid overview of documents. It indicates a development strategy towards sustainable development with broad suggestive action plans and not detailed assessments or project reports, the draft report said. It had also given the details of the work to be carried out in the TTZ, Agra city and Taj Mahal precinct along with the agencies responsible for it and time frame having short, medium and long term measures. The draft report said that seven regional plans had to be prepared for the TTZ along with rejuvenation, reclamation and restoration projects to be taken up for river Yamuna. The apex court, which was monitoring development in the area to protect the Taj Mahal, built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal at Agra in 1643, would take up the matter on a day-to-day basis from July 31. The ivory white marble mausoleum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.