Eco-friendly Auto Rickshaws plying in Agra are waiting for the day when all of them would get legal permits from State government to ply.
Over the years, the 17th century built Taj Mahal has witnessed a threat to its beauty from rising pollution. Environmentalists and others have expressed serious concerns about the Taj Mahal's beauty getting affected by rising pollution-level on several occasions.
But the local authorities despite being aware of the problem have failed to show any drastic measure to the satisfaction of the concerned experts or activists.
Since 1996 these eco-friendly auto rickshaws have been plying in Agra. But these battery run auto rickshaws are waiting for the day when all of them would get legal permits from State government to ply.
But it appears authorities still need time to realize their positive impact. These autos are environment-friendly since they do not pollute the air with exhaust fumes and thus help in the perseverance of ecological balance.
These battery run auto rickshaws ferry tourists and other passengers from the centre of city to the Taj Mahal and back.
Out of the 65 auto rickshaws only 23 are plying with a valid permit of the regional transport officer (RTO).
"RTO people have said that only few autos have the legal permit to ferry passengers. Earlier, we used to think that these autos don't need any objection certificate (NOCs) and let them operate. But now we will be maintaining proper records of these autos," said Mujjafar Ali, member of Security Committee of Taj Mahal.
"Regional Transport Authority of Agra decided that from the eastern and western gates of Taj Mahal, only battery operated autos are going to ferry passengers to and forth from Taj Mahal, and later they can use their own vehicles. This way ecological balance of the city can be maintained," said V. K. Sonkiya, Regional Transport Officer.
"Vehicle of other States can move in Uttar Pradesh, only if they are private, as rules are not strict for private vehicles but they are strict for commercial ones," Sonkiya added.
According to the officials of RTO, these battery-operated autos can prove to be dangerous in context of the security of Taj Mahal, as many of the battery-run rickshaw are not having permit from the Government.
"This particular drive is to round up those unauthorised battery operated autos plying near the Taj Mahal. Today, we found three to four autos that were not having respective permit papers. We are checking more autos to scrutinise all those autos which are without permits," said Sunita Verma, Assistant Regional Transport Officer, Agra.
The Government of Uttar Pradesh has taken up this exclusive drive to avert any mishap at this popular tourist spot.
While such a concern is appreciable, it is shocking that an organ of the same Government is least bothered in giving a green signal to eco-friendly auto rickshaws to ply and ferry the stream of tourists for the love of monument.
It may be recalled that environmentalists had expressed their anguish at the damage caused to the snow-white marble by fumes of industrial and vehicular emissions, which would not occur with battery operated auto rickshaws.
Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan had built Taj Mahal, the mausoleum, in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal in 1632.
Today many describe Taj Mahal as the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Indian and Islamic architectural styles, especially those of Persia and Turkey.
In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage."
While the white domed marble mausoleum is its most familiar component, the Taj Mahal is actually an integrated complex of structures.
Building began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, and employed thousands of artisans and craftsmen. Ustad Ahmad Lahauri is generally considered to be the principal designer of the Taj Mahal. By Brijesh Kr. Singh