Coal-using petha units shut down

Agra, Feb 1: A dozen petha-making units in this city of the Taj were shut down late Friday after they were found to be flouting environmental norms, district authorities said Saturday.

Last week Divisional Commissioner Pradeep Bhatnagar visited the area and advised the petha (a sweet) unit owners to shift outside the city or use commercial gas. But the response from the units was cold.

A municipal corporation team raided the Noori Darwaza area here and disconnected lines, poured cold water on coal-bhatties, sealed premises and challaned shopkeepers for littering petha waste all around.

Several leading petha units and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Petha Kutir Udhyog Association, supported by political parties, protested against the move of the municipal corporation.

They demanded that proper infrastructure be provided to the units.

City environment officer Rajiv Rathi said: “The petha units would not be permitted to foul and pollute the whole area. Units will be continuously monitored and if need be challaned.”

Petha waste is a major pollutant in the city as it chokes drains and attracts flies and mosquitoes, say activists who have been demanding action against them.

“The ban on use of coal was imposed way back in 1996…, the petha units continued to defy orders …. It is only after social activists followed up… there has been some action. Better late than never,” said activist Devashish Bhattacharya.

The authorities did not act despite clear directives from the Supreme Court in 1996 while disposing off a public interest litigation by M.C. Mehta to save the Taj Mahal from air pollution, said Shravan Kumar Singh of Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.

IANS