In last few decades, development at Agra has been rapid with erosion of green cover as well as water bodies which have been periodically highlighted by environmentalists and even the local press of Agra.

While we were adopting and making changes in our life style we have ignored the price which we will have to pay for this ill thought development. We have seen the effect of this partial development that we were contributing towards destruction of the city, as the citizens never thought of giving back responsibly what we were taking from nature. This irresponsible attitude of consuming the resources without trying to replenish them contributed to destruction that surpassed all other benefits of our partial development. However things are now looking bright with many citizens and NGO’s of Agra coming together in planting more trees and on other environmental issues. SPHEEHA (Society for Preservation of Healthy Environment and Ecology and Heritage of Agra) has been at the forefront of taking-up environmental issues of Agra at every possible forum to conserve what we are still left with, and try to replenish whatever we can. It has also been one of the pioneers in organising regular mass tree plantations in this city since 2006.

It is easy to plant trees but looking after them is a great task. However SPHEEHA takes this in a responsible manner by performing anti-termite treatment, pruning, manuring and building tree guards to protect these trees from stray animals. It has also invested in a water-tanker to water them through out the year. A dedicated staff looks after these trees like their own extended family thus ensuring the survival rate of over 85%. It gladdens our hearts that many others now follow our example and understand the importance of green cover in this city.

SPHEEHA organised its Inaugural Monsoon Tree Plantation function near Dayalbagh gymnasium on 27th July 2016. Over the years SPHEEHA has planted over 3500+ trees in Agra and this year it is planting another 300 trees as a part of its Monsoon Tree Plantation Drive. The focus is not just on greenery but ensuring that these trees benefit the over-all well-being of the residents of the city; thus emphasis is being laid on flower bearing trees and medicinal plants. Trees being planted are Albania Amana, Amaltas, Neem, Vajaradanti, Mehendi & Rose Climbers. The produce of these medicinal plants will be used in Dayalbagh Ayurveda Pharmacy.

The city of the Taj is far ahead of Delhi, Kanpur or Nainital in terms of the level of black carbon in the atmosphere, one of the factors responsible for giving a yellow tinge to the 17th century white marble monument. A study by Dayalbagh Technical Institute with the help of satellite data has revealed that the level of black carbon is far higher than in the national capital and Kanpur. Even the levels of suspended particulate matter and particulate matter are very high in the city as compared to permissible limits.

Moreover, the survey has found that even the radiative forcing (the difference of radiation absorbed by the earth and that sent back into space) is on the higher side as compared to Delhi or Kanpur. Assistant professor Ranjeet Kumar, principal investigator in the study, said that in Agra heat absorption is more due to pollutants.

“There are two types of components present in the environment. One reduces global warming, while the other increases it. In Agra, the latter’s composition is quite high. The presence of sulphate aerosol, which has a cooling effect, is very low in Agra. It is less than two microgram per cubic metre,” Kumar said. He added that there is no fixed permissible limit for black carbon like other pollutants, as studies are still going on, but the figures suggest that the level of pollution in the city is very high.

The study is being funded by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). For this, equipment like multi-wavelength radiometer for measuring radiation and aethalometer for measuring levels of black carbon are installed and pollutant levels were recorded between 2013 and 2015. “These are the preliminary data, as the project will continue for the next three years,” Kumar added.

Notably, a joint study to look into factors behind the discolouration of the Taj Mahal by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and University of Wisconsin at Madison, USA, last year had revealed that carbonaceous particles (black carbon and brown carbon) and dust on marble surfaces are mainly behind the discolouration of the white marble surface. Percentage-wise, 59% discoloration is due to dust, 38% from brown carbon and 3% from black carbon, the Indo-US study reported.

 

(Published in The Times of India, November 20, 2015/Contributed by SPHEEHA Associate Member – Ranjeet Kumar Sinha)

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Environment is the surrounding things. It includes living things and natural forces. The environment of living things provides conditions for development and growth as well as danger and damage. Living things do not simply exist in their environment. They constantly interact with it. Organisms change in response to conditions in their environment. The environment consists of the interactions among plants, animals, soil, water, temperature, light, and other living and non-living things.

Environmental issues are harmful effects of human activity on the biophysical environment.

SPHEEHA showcases this World History Final Project – highlighting the the issues with the changing global environment.