Taj city residents oppose widening of Delhi-Agra highway

Agra, Aug 3 (IANS) Thousands of Taj city residents Tuesday opposed the central government’s decision to widen the Delhi-Agra national highway and presented a memorandum to the divisional commissioner on the issue.

The Agra Bypass Vyapar Sangharsh Samiti said in a statement that due to the highway’s six-laning ‘within the city limits more than 7,000 residential and commercial structures would be demolished, causing a loss worth crores of rupees’.

‘Thousands of families will be left without any means of sustenance, leading to law and order problem,’ the statement said.

Some residents also questioned the need for widening the highway when an expressway from Greater Noida to Agra was already under construction.

Environmental activists in the city said no feasibility study had been done for the widening of the highway.

‘It is not clear why they want to uproot thousands of fully-grown trees along the highway, and what purpose will the six-lanes serve when a new rail track for a bullet type train is under consideration?’ asked green activist Ravi Singh.

‘The 170-km-long Yamuna Expressway will take care of any increase in traffic within six months. So why create another eco-disaster in the sensitive Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ),’ he said.

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

According to rough estimates, more than 25,000 fully-grown trees may have to be axed for widening the highway.

So far there is no information whether environmental clearance has been given by the environment and forests ministry or whether a public hearing on the project has been held, said Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.

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