Air pollution discolouring marble of Golden Temple
Amritsar, Mar 23: The Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs, is facing threat because of increasing levelS of air pollution in its vicinity, which is discolouring the gold plating and marble finish of the shrine.
Alarmed over the development, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has decided to carry out special air monitoring in the vicinity of the shrine. Even though an Air Monitoring Centre of the PPCB is already functioning in the holy city, it is located at a distance from the shrine.
The Board has therefore decided to undertake a special drive to gauge the extent of air pollution in the immediate vicinity of the Golden Temple. PPCB officials are concerened about the dozen odd dyeing and soap manufacturing units which are located close it.
The large number of jewellery shops, which are estimated to be around 150, in the vicinity of the shrine, are also a cause of worry. The air pollution caused by the dyeing and soap manufacturing units are affecting the white colour of the marble on the shrine.
According to PPCB officials, the emission levels of toxic gases including sulphur dioxide are also affecting the marble colour as well as the shine of the gold plating in the shrine.
The PPCB, after monitoring the levels of air pollution and its effect on marble and gold, would recommend remedial measures, officials here said.
It is pertinent to mention that Gurmeet Rai, Director, Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative has already criticised the prestigious 5.35 km Elevated Road Project to Sri Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) which is to be built at a cost of Rs 173 crore. 'It will be disastrous to maintain our cultural heritage'', she said.
She has said it will create further traffic chaos in the vicinity of the shrine. She had strongly advocated that the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandik Committee (SGPC) should try to getting the World Heritage Status (WHS) status for the Golden Temple.
She said the director general of Archeological Survey of India (ASI) had allayed fears of governmental interference. She said the ASI had written to the SGPC that the central government would not have any role in the management of the temple.
''The management of the Golden Temple will continue to remain with the SGPC and there will be no change'', she assured the SGPC.
According to Ms Rai, even UNESCO had written to the SGPC saying there would be no change in the management of the shrine, but the SGPC ultimately did not favour World Heritage Status for the shrine.