Ensure 24-hr power supply in area around Taj Mahal: Panel

Noting that diesel generators in the area around the Taj Mahal are a major source of pollution “adversely” affecting the monument, a parliamentary panel has urged Uttar Pradesh government to implement Supreme Court’s direction for 24-hour power supply there.

A parliamentary committee on science and technology and environment and forest in its report felt that by not implementing the Supreme Court directive, the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) authority was making itself “liable” for contempt of SC.

TTZ is a defined area of 10,400 sq km around the Taj Mahal to protect the 17th Century marble monument from pollution.

“The committee is of the view that use of DG sets in TTZ area is one of the major sources of air pollution, which has been adversely affecting the beauty of the Taj. The committee recommends that the government of Uttar Pradesh…Must make all out efforts to implement the direction of SC regarding 24-hour power supply to the TTZ area so that the use of DG sets is avoided and its adverse impact on the Taj Mahal is minimised,” the committee chaired by former Union minister Ashwani Kumar said.

The committee said that the TTZ Authority has also not sought any exemption from the Supreme Court in this regard.

“The committee therefore recommends that in order to avoid contempt of court, the TTZ authority should approach the Supreme Court and highlight the constraints of providing 24-hour power supply in TTZ areas and seek an amendments of the direction issued in this regard till such time they are able to provide 24-hour power supply in the area,” it said.

The committee observed that one of the most important directions of SC regarding protection of Taj Mahal was to ensure uninterrupted electricity to TTZ.

However, the committee was informed by civil societies and NGOs that irregular supply of power in the region forces consumers to use DG sets for commercial as well as domestic purposes.

DG sets are installed in almost all glass based- industries in Ferozabad district which are operated on natural gas. DG sets are also deployed as alternative electricity source in many health care facilities which include all types of hospitals, nursing homes clinics and others.

DG sets are also installed in some commercial places such as banks and hotels, the committee observed while also saying that in Mathura, DG sets are installed in industries and commercial and residential premises like schools and hospitals.

The committee observed that since 24-hour electricity to TTZ area was one of the directions of the apex court, it inquired from TTZ authority as to whether the directions by SC were being complied with.

The committee was informed that nearly all directions of the SC were implemented. However, on uninterrupted power supply, the directions had not been fully implemented.

Since there was shortage of electricity in Uttar Pradesh, the TTZ was getting about 18-19 hours of electricity every day which, however, was much better than many other districts of Uttar Pradesh.