Agra, Sep 17 (PTI) Local activists today demanded that water should be released from upstream barrages regularly to protect historical buildings along the Yamuna river, including the Taj Mahal, from pollution.

In a conference here, they urged the Uttar Pradesh government to take steps to ensure that the minimum level of water in the river is maintained to control Suspended Particulate Matter in the air.

On the construction of a barrage downstream of the Taj Mahal, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society, Surendra Sharma, said, “It has to be downstream of the monument so that the water stored and the back-flow keeps the river full in areas along the historic sites.” “This is necessary for the safety of the Taj Mahal and other monuments which, at present, are adversely affected by the high SPM level, dust, and the alarmingly high quantity of toxic pollutants,” he said.

River activist Devashish Bhattacharya called for a review of the 1994 Yamuna Water Agreement between Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan.

He said it should be reviewed because the share of water for downstream cities is “unjust and unfair as well as unscientific”.

Shravan Kumar Singh, an activist associated with the River Connect Campaign, said the country needed a comprehensive national rivers’ policy.

“We have seen a lot of confusion over drawing the flood plain limits to prevent encroachments. The national river policy will address problems such as illegal mining, and help in developing green belts,” he said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.