Rethink for Growth and Sustainability

Chairman Governing Body & Bishop of Agra Diocese Rt. Rev. Dr. P. P. Habil, inaugurates “Taj Trapezium: Rethink for Growth and Sustainability”, says it is high time that we rethink about strategies to mitigate pollution in the TTZ region and invites eminent scientists to brain storm on the possible solutions for the region. 

Dr. Rakesh Kumar, Former Director CSIR-NEERI delivered the keynote address for the round table and highlighted the need of focussed task force given the varied environmental and climate related issues of the region. He also urged to promote of clean technologies and processes in the upcoming MSMEs for the overall development of the region and indicated the need for localised solutions for the problems such as intensive construction and increasing vehicular pollution.

Dr. J S Sharma, Chairman Indian Association for Air Pollution Control (IAAPC) and Director, International Centre for Climate and Sustainability Action Foundation (ICSSA Foundation), while setting the context of the roundtable, indicated that the Agra region should target for Net Zero plan and eminent researchers should develop a possible roadmap for achieving this while ensuring socio-economic development of the region. 

St. Johns College, Agra on 25th Nov. 2021 hosted a roundtable on “Taj Trapezium: Rethink for Growth and Sustainability” focussing on various environmental and developmental issues in the region. The event was inaugurated by Chairman Governing Body & Bishop of Agra Diocese Rt. Rev. Dr. P. P. Habil. During his address, he indicated that this is an important issue for the region with respect to the environment and climate change and invited eminent scientists to brainstorm on the possible solutions for the region. Dr. S P Singh, Principal, St. Johns College and the Patron of the event welcomed all the dignitaries and highlighted the need to develop strategies to mitigate pollution in the TTZ region. 

Dr. J S Sharma, Chairman Indian Association for Air Pollution Control (IAAPC) and Director, International Centre for Climate and Sustainability Action Foundation (ICSSA Foundation), while setting the context for the discussions of the technical sessions, discussed various sources of pollution in the region and indicated many past studies which have been carried out for pollution monitoring. He highlighted that there is a need to take these studies forward and formulate implementable on-ground solutions to mitigate the environmental challenges in TTZ. Inline the vision of our Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi Ji, he indicated that the Agra region should also focus on the development of a roadmap for Net Zero and eminent researchers in this region should start working in this area. 

The keynote address of the event was given by Dr. Rakesh Kumar, Former Director CSIR-NEERI. He highlighted the major environmental externalities of the region and indicated that a loss of about Rs. 800 Crores is happening each year due to air pollution. The National clean air program, if implemented properly, should reduce a loss of about 450 Crores. Still considerable is demanded in the unorganised industrial sectors by promoting cleantech and processes for overall development and growth of the region.

He also indicated that many studies have happened in TTZ in the region however significant improvements are needed in the region in order to reduce the issues related to pollution. An inclusive assessment of waste, wastewater treatment and air pollution is needed for the region. Pinpoint identification of the problems is also a necessity and this may not be possible without the help of local stakeholders and calls for crowdfunding for financing the initiatives around TTZ and data gathering.

Agra region should also think about improving reducing its carbon footprint by creating an actionable plan for climate and the development of Net Zero strategy can be a way forward. He suggested identifying the priority areas of action with respect to the environment, climate and socio-economic development and to redefine TTZ based on meteorology, land use and future expansion based on Environment, Social and Governance (ESG). 

The event also witnessed the facilitation of Prof. C K Varshney, Emeritus Professor, School of Environmental Science, JNU, New Delhi for his exemplary contribution in the field of environmental science of the country. 

The event had dedicated technical sessions on environmental challenges of the region focussing on impact on Taj, heritage preservation, clean technologies and overall sustainability. A dedicated panel session was kept to understand the next steps and development of Vision (Industrial and Social) for the region. Addressing during the technical session, Dr. B. Sengupta, Former Member Secretary, CPCB, New Delhi reflected upon action steps to be taken for improving air quality in Agra, Mathura region to preserve Taj Mahal and other monuments in TTZ.

Some of his suggestions included identification of gaps and implantation of action plans suggested in previous studies, promotion of BS-VI fuel, EVs, etc and the need for carrying out multiple studies such as source apportionment, the impact of ozone and ammonia on the monument, etc. Dr. S. K. Goyal, Chief Scientist & Head, CSIR-NEERI – Delhi Zonal Centre indicated that detailed assessment with respect to the boundary of TTZ should be done and different layers of the region should be defined with respect to tolerable limits of pollution and developmental aspects of these regions.

The major stakeholders during the technical sessions included Dr. Girish Maheshwari, Former IQAC Coordinator & Former Head School of Entomology, St. John‘s College, Agra; Dr. Ranjit Kumar, Asst. Prof., Dept. of Chemistry, Dayalbagh Educational Institute, Agra; Dr. J. K. Moitra, Vice President, IAAPC and Dr. Parthaa Bosu, Lead Advisor, Environmental Defense Fund and Dr. Rajendra Prasad, IAAPC.

Summing up, Prof. C K Varshney highlighted that many studies have been done focussing on air pollution in the region, however, there is still a significant gap to establish clear linkages of various activities polluting the overall environment which calls for inclusive involvement of local stakeholders, researchers and industries to develop a holistic and time-bound action plan for the region. He indicated that a task force or a study centre may be created to understand the above issues in detail and work on probable solutions. Further, the upcoming aspects of Net Zero and SDGs should be considered while rethinking and replanning for the region. 

Dr. Susan Verghese P, Head, Chemistry Department, St. John’s College, Agra was the master of ceremony and coordinated the event. 

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