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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 29 September, 2022

  • 6 Min Read

Taj Mahal & Pollution Warning     

Taj Mahal & Pollution Warning

  • The Supreme Court recently ordered a halt to all commercial activities within a 500-meter radius of the Taj Mahal.

More on the news:

  • The Supreme Court recently ordered the Agra Development Authority to halt all commercial activity within 500 metres of the Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasised the Taj Mahal's failure to protect it from various forms of pollution.

Concerns:

  • Previously, the court expressed concern about the Taj Mahal's marble changing colour from white to yellowish, then brownish-green.
  • Illegal businesses are flourishing near the monument's western gate, in flagrant violation of court orders.
  • Toxic gases such as sulphur dioxide were released by industries, foundries, vehicles, and the nearby Mathura petroleum refinery, endangering both the monument and the people in its vicinity.
  • The Supreme Court blamed the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) for the monument's inability to be protected, saying that the ASI "will have to be thrown out of the picture" if the Taj Mahal was to be saved.

Timeline of government and court orders issued to safeguard the Taj Mahal

1970s

  • In order to protect the Taj from pollution, the Central Government established the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ), which encompassed an area of 10,400 square kilometres around the monument.

1996:

  • The Supreme Court ruled that nearby coke/coal-consuming industries were causing harm to the monument and the people who lived in the TTZ.
  • It also ordered the 292 industries in the zone to convert to natural gas as an industrial fuel or relocate.
  • National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) Report: A report submitted by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) in 2010 discovered that, despite various government schemes to reduce pollution in the TTZ area, the iconic Taj Mahal remained under threat from water and air pollution.
  • Furthermore, the NEERI report discovered that the Yamuna water, which was contaminated with industrial discharge, sewage, and solid waste, was causing damage to the monument.
  • While the creation of a bypass, improvements to power supply, and the reduction of diesel generators had a positive impact, the study discovered that nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions had reached higher levels than a decade prior.

The causes of Taj Mahal discoloration

Polluted gases

  • It includes high levels of noxious gases, suspended dust particles, vehicle emissions, and the destruction of green cover in order to build roads and houses.
  • The Taj's beautiful white façade has been corroded and damaged by sulfur dioxide, NOx emissions, and primarily carbon-based particles, leaving it with a yellow sheen.

Polluted Yamuna:

  • According to activists, a dry and the polluted Yamuna is a constant threat to the Taj Mahal's safety.
  • The National Green Tribunal has been battling encroachments on the Yamuna floodplains with its orders.
  • Even the flood plains' boundaries have not been clearly demarcated after years of dithering, the campaigners claim.

Attacks by insects:

  • Insects from the city's sewage-dumping river, the Yamuna, infiltrate the Taj Mahal, staining the marble with their excrement.
  • According to Archaeological Survey of India research, these insects breed in the contaminated debris of the river before attacking the Taj Mahal in the evening.
  • There used to be fish in the river that ate the insects and their larvae, but due to severe water pollution, there are no signs of any aquatic species in the river.
  • Other monuments on the Yamuna River's banks, including the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, the Mehtab Bagh, and portions of the Agra Fort, have also been affected by these insect attacks.

Solutions and the way forward

  • Mud packs: One of the ASI's preferred methods for removing the yellow stains that have appeared over the years on the Taj Mahal's white marble facade is to use mud packs.
  • It is hoped that the treatment, which has traditionally been used to clean marble surfaces, will help restore the monument's natural shine and colour.

How does mud pack help?

  • The clay is applied as a thick paste to the marble, where it absorbs the grime, grease, and bird droppings before being washed away with distilled water.
  • The process is tedious and time-consuming, but it is thought to leave the marble cleaner and shinier.
  • Massive Fund proposed a $30 million project under the Alliance to End Plastic to eliminate more than 90 percent of Agra's plastic waste to help deal with the city's mounting plastic waste.

The Agra Air Action Plan

  • It is a significant step forward in the systematic combat of air pollution.
  • Preventive actions and local-scale compliance enforcement tools, uniquely designed as an agreement between local government and the private sector, could significantly contribute to the plan's successful implementation and long-term sustainability.

National Clean Air Initiative:

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change launched the National Clean Air Programme with the goal of meeting the prescribed annual average ambient air quality standards in 102 non-attainment Indian cities by 2025, with Agra being one of them.

Read Also: World Heritage Day

Source: Livemint


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