Aligarh was among the six districts chosen for the Green Revolution along with Ludhiana in the 1980s. The Green Revolution happened and Aligarh, like many other towns, went on to bigger things like rapid and unplanned industrialisation. In the process, the town underwent a drastic change due to incessant pollution. Today, it is a town of dirty river and nauseating nullahs, clogged streets, overflowing drains and is constantly shrouded with a haze of polluted air.
Aligarh is the most important centre for locksmithyy and monopolises the industry. There are around 1,500 registered industrial units employing around 7,000 people and 6,000 units in the unregistered sector employ about 70,000 people. A single lock-making factory produces around 300 locks a day. The metal grinding and polishing in lock-related industries puts out huge amounts of hazardous particles in the air. The fumes from acid used in the lock industry is another pollutant and could be the cause of severe respiratory problems.
The work of polishing the metal pieces is one of the dangerous jobs that form part of the lock industry. Rusted pieces of metal are polished on buffing machines, the bobs of which are covered with emery powder. The piece is held by hand against the bob and the rusted portion is polished off. The worker's face is within 25 centimetres of the rotating machines. The workers have little choice but to inhale the emery powder and metal dust. In spray painting units, substantial quantities of toxic gases from zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, iron oxide and cadmium compounds in paints and paint thinners are inhaled by workers.
Highly acidic water from the polishing and electroplating industries, have ruined the freshwater ponds of Aligarh. Heavy construction activity has also ensured the shrinking of the ponds every year thus increasing the acid concentration. The historic Achal talab (pond) dries up every summer.
A trip through the innards of the city gives one the impression that the town is one huge garbage dump. A World Bank-aided project for garbage clearance is not being managed efficiently in yet another case of money for civic amenities being misused. Highways that lead to and from the town, areas near the railway station and even the so-called plush localities like the Civil Lines are littered with garbage. The municipality employs 1,000 people for garbage collection but, according to a municipal corporation official, they need at least three times the number of people to handle the deluge of garbage.
The town of Aligarh extends three to five km beyond the periphery. The expansion has been at the cost of agricultural land. Colonies located in these areas are not provided with any infrastructure as municipalities do not regulate them (see table: Land transfer).
There are no signs yet of any concerted effort being put together to stem Aligarh's decline into absolute filth. In the near future visitors might comment that Aligarh has gone down the drain - lock, stock and barrel.
|Use for which withdrawn||Area in hectares(ha)||Number of villages affected|
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