The Supreme Court on Wednesday (3rd February 2016) said the green technology that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is seeking for cremation of bodies should be for the entire country and not just for the cremation ground in the vicinity of Taj Mahal.
The apex court bench, comprising Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice C. Nagappan, said this as senior counsel Vijay Panjwani, appearing for the CPCB, told the court that the pollution-monitoring body has already approached the IITs in Delhi, Kanpur and Kharagpur in its quest for green technology for cremation grounds to reduce carbon emission.
Informing the court that CPCB has not yet succeeded in finding any technology that is pollution-free or effects reduction in the emission of carbon particles from an open air cremation using firewood, Panjwani said the scientists at the pollution-monitoring body were hardly equipped to offer any green alternatives for traditional open air cremation by firewood.
The CPCB’s response came in pursuance to the December 14, 2015, direction of the court asking it to “examine what alternatives are available having regard to the modern technology and scientific advances in terms of different alternatives for cremation of dead bodies”.
The court had asked the CPCB to examine the matter and submit its proposals to it.
The court had also asked the Uttar Pradesh government to “present a comprehensive plan for improvement in crematorium/cremation area including the use of proposed Green Cremation System and use of technology to reduce the emission of carbon”.
The apex court’s direction on December 14, last year, came in the course of the hearing in the wake of a letter by one of its judges Justice Kurian Joseph, seeking the apex court’s intervention in protecting the monument from the carbon emission.
Justice Kurian Joseph, during a visit to Taj Mahal last year, had noted the damage being caused to the historic monument from the smoke emitted from the cremation ground, located barely 300 metres away.
He brought this to the notice of the apex court and sought its intervention through his letter dated October 1, 2015.
Initially, the apex court toyed with the idea of shifting the cremation ground to some other location or doing away with traditional open air firewood cremation by replacing it with electric crematoriums. But the Uttar Pradesh government expressed difficulties in adopting either of the two options.
The court was told that people prefer traditional firewood cremation as a matter of belief.
While asking CPCB and the Uttar Pradesh government to look for some green technology to reduce, if not eliminate, carbon emission, the court had asked the authorities to encourage the people to opt for electric crematorium by not charging them any payment.
Meanwhile, the court permitted the laying of three approach roads to Taj Mahal with red sand stone instead of granite.
The court gave its nod after counsel appearing for the Uttar Pardesh government informed the court that during a meeting of the authorities with officers of the Archaeological Survey of India it was felt that red sand stone would go with the totality of the monument instead of granite in making the road.