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The Taj Mahal is under threat of demolition because pollution has damaged it so much

The Taj Mahal is under threat of demolition because pollution has damaged it so much

  • India's Supreme Court has made a statement threatening to demolish the Taj Mahal or to shut it down.
  • The statement came in response to the lack of action taken to prevent and remedy the discoloration of the monument.
  • The damage appears to be caused largely by air pollution from nearby factories and the excrement of insects coming from Yamuna River.

In a drastic statement, India's Supreme Court has presented the local government where the Taj Mahal is situated with an ultimatum, threatening either to demolish the iconic monument or to shut it down.

"Either we shut down the Taj, demolish it or you restore it," stated Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak to the Central and Uttar Pradesh governments on Wednesday.

The Taj Mahal, erected by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century, is one of the world's "seven wonders" and was built in Agra as a mausoleum for Shah Jahan's wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

The court was already in the middle of another similar hearing from May, prompted by environmentalist Mahesh Chander Mehta's petition, when it was raised that pollution was turning the monument's once pristine white marble facade green, brown, and yellow.

Since then, the court has begun implementing various preservation laws - the most recent being that non-locals are prohibited from offering prayers on the monument's premises - but officials have declared the case a "hopeless cause", rebuking the local government for its failure to devise a preservation plan swiftly enough.

Over the past three decades, the building has degraded largely due to particulate matter given off by industrial units in its vicinity, but also due to the Yamuna River, at the west side of which the Taj Mahal is situated.

Yamuna River also contains considerable waste and, as a result, now houses a breeding ground for insects - whose excrement corrodes the building's marble. In addition, household generators running on diesel and kerosene are also common in India and are thought to be another culprit in pollution levels.

The court also questioned the chairman of the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) - the 10,400 square kilometre region around the Taj Mahal - about why the court's ban on the expansion of industrial units in that area was contravened.

Uttar Pradesh government has defended itself saying IIT, Kanpur was conducting an assessment of air pollution levels in and around the TTZ and would give its report within four months. The court, which said the issue had dragged on for too long with too few clear plans of action, said the case will now be heard on a day-to-day basis as of July 31.

Read the original article on Business Insider India. Copyright 2018. Follow Business Insider India on Twitter.


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