Agra: The Indian government on Sunday pledged to end disposable, or single use plastic around the Taj Mahal and make upto 500 metres around the historic monument plastic-free under the Taj Declaration on beating plastic pollution.
In a meeting held at the Taj on Sunday, Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, who is is also Minister of State for Environment, United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director Erik Solheim and UNEP Goodwill Ambassador and actress Diya Mirza, adopted "Taj Declaration" that aims making Agra, which is among world's top ten most polluted cities, free of plastic.
The measure came ahead of the World Environment Day (June 5) to be marked this year with theme "Beat Plastic Pollution".
The meeting also discussed the impact of pollution on the historic monument, which is turning yellow and green, even as the Archaeological Survey of India earlier suggested to vacuum cleaning of the roads around the monument.
"Chaired by 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 followed by the Taj Declaration to 'Beat Plastic Pollution', 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," an official statement said.
At the press meet, Sharma said: "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."
He added that it was the right time to act and reduce plastic use and reuse, recycle, re-collect, re-design and re-manufacture it. He further added that the government is committed to development of Agra in which the Union and state governments, as well as the local administration and all agencies will work under single umbrella and will also take along the common public of Agra in the process.
Sharma, Solheim and Diya also participated in the Clean Yamuna Programme on the riverfront along the Taj along with representatives of various other agencies before a quick tour of the Taj Mahal, the statement said.