Taj city acts against Yamuna polluters

Agra, May 1 (IANS) Determined to clean up the Yamuna, authorities in the Taj Mahal city have arrested 23 cattle owners and washermen for dirtying the river.

The surprise and swift operation – involving the joint staff of five police stations – made the arrests Saturday under various sections of the Water Pollution Act of 1974.

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Police said the arrested people – 18 ‘dhobis’ (washermen) and five cattle owners – could be fined and sentenced up to seven years in jail.

An official of the animal husbandry department, Ravindra Choudhary, initiated the cleaning drive by registering a complaint.

Divisional Commissioner Ashok Kumar, who last month sternly warned dhobis and others from polluting the river, set up a crack team – River Police – to tackle rampant pollution in the river. Official sources said the drive would intensify this week, adding that efforts would be made to ensure that the polluters did not go scot-free.

Choudhary said the cattle would be auctioned – and so would the clothes confiscated from the dhobis.

District authorities have also ordered a complete ban on the use of polythene bags of 20 microns or lesser. The factories manufacturing such bags have been served notices and a drive is on to fine the concerned shopkeepers.

Agra’s Additional District Magistrate Rajiv Rautela has served notices on polythene distributors, giving them time till May 8 to finish off their stocks. A list of shops selling polythene bags in Agra and Mathura has also been released.

Rautela said that in the first phase of the campaign, court campuses, hospitals, schools and the Agra Development Authority offices would be declared polythene free.