Khaleej Times

Government aims to modernise ancient craft


> The Taj Mahal is a sore point for many of the craftsmen toiling over thousand-degree furnaces to fashion the glittering bangles that sell for pennies across India > The artisans are banned from burning coal and forced to use costly gas to fuel their furnaces instead — and yet two decades on the Taj is still losing its lustre > A Supreme Court ruling in 1999 gave Firozabad two years to retrofit their factories with gas instead of coal > Authoritie­s are now thinking of closing the district for good. > The National Green Tribunal is considerin­g shifting the entire industry elsewhere > To offset the disruption, the government is trying to bring artisans into the modern era by teaching them to sell their goods online and run stalls at state-run craft fairs in major centres > Artisans earn around Rs300 ($5) per day, despite the extreme conditions > With the Taj still yellowing, authoritie­s are now searching for stricter rules on potential pollutants in the area > Other coal-powered industries in districts closest to the mausoleum have also been shut down, and motor vehicles are not allowed within a 500-metre radius of the Taj

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