After the Taj Mahal, Agra is famous for the petha or candied ash gourd. Sold dry, in syrup and other forms, the petha attracts honeybees and tourists in equal measure (Photos: Vikas Choudhary)
But the makers of these juicy delights are now facing a threat. After a recent study blamed dust and carbonaceous particles for discolouring the marble veneer of the Taj, authorities asked many petha-making units around the monument to either switch from coal to LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) or shut shop, without providing proper alternatives
Many manufacturers have applied for LPG connections, only to be told that processing a connection will take eight months. “How can we stop work for so long? We’ll lose all trained workers,” says Shanu Yadav of Noori Darwaza Petha Union
Many workers have already lost their jobs. The Agra Development Authority has decided to relocate them to Kalindi Vihar, a place which can accommodate merely one-fifth of the petha units in the area.
Kalindi Vihar has neither an LPG connection--a primary reason for relocation of the units--nor sweet water needed to make the sweets. Meanwhile, petha units continue to be shut down in Agra.