Environmental Protection of Taj Mahal

Environmental Protection of Taj Mahal It is beyond any doubt that Taj Mahal is one of the leading specimens of the cultural and historical glory of India, besides being a magnificent monument to love by itself. During the 400 year odd history of its existence, countless visitors to this shrine have been mesmerized by its ethereal grace, reflected by its faultless sense of symmetry, while being captivated by this 42 acre complex as a unique blend of Islamic, Persian and Hindu traditions with universal appeal.

However, there are some palpable indications that Taj is gradually deteriorating, with the marble reflecting yellow-orange stains at various places; while some marble slabs reveal tiny holes where the stone has evidently fallen prey to the pollution. At a few places, the facade has started to rot with a few chips falling away. Though the official agencies entrusted with its upkeep claim that adequate and substantial measures are being adopted well in time to keep the problem in check, but there have been enduring reports in recent years alleging that official efforts are not bearing desired fruit.

There have been allegations that the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has been amiss in its responsibility, while critics call for a complete overhaul of its conservation efforts. The detractors point out that the terrace and walkway sandstone is obviously worn out and even where it has been restored, the end result appears shoddy. However, interacting with various activists and conservationists, it is apparent that there have been some genuine efforts to arrest the slide.

Following the Supreme Court directive of 1996, a large number of polluting industries and foundries have been closed or relocated, while one of the leading polluters, viz. the Mathura Refinery has been forced to switch to compressed natural gas (CNG). All automobile traffic has been severely restricted around the monument, while intensive efforts have been made to increase the surrounding green belt.

However, despite best efforts, the increasing population every where in the country including that in Agra, apart from sharply aggravating number of visitors to this monument make all efforts appear inadequate. With more than 800,000 registered vehicles in the city and more than 5 million tourists visiting the site every year, the struggle to control the environmental pollution appears to be a herculean task.

There has been some success in combating the sulphur dioxide related pollution, but as per official data the total suspended particulate matter (SPM) in the local air, arising out of vehicle exhaust, dust and other suspended particles is far above acceptable levels. Moreover, by far the greatest cause of concern is the sharply accelerating pollution levels in the adjoining Yamuna River, which though a separate entity, is in fact very much an integral element of Taj Mahal splendor.

Tackling the Yamuna pollution requires a much more comprehensive Environmental Action Plan spread out over a large area in entire northern India, while incorporating multiple agencies in at least 5 states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, which is evidently a phenomenal task, which may or may not be possible for the powers that be. Website: http://www. indiatraveltours. com/agra%20day%20trip. htm

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