The Taj Mahal faces possible destruction if the government of India does not follow through on an order issued by the Supreme Court in July, the Weather Network reported on August 11. The historic building, frequently referenced as one of the top Wonders of the World, has faced a continual barrage of pollution and bug waste.

The Taj Mahal, which is more than four centuries old, has not fared well with the elements the building has encountered since 1653. India’s two-judge Supreme Court reprimanded the government for its neglect of the monument. The court warned, “Either we shut down the Taj Mahal” or it may be demolished or restored, but something must be done, according to the Telegraph (UK), which covered news from the court when it broke in July.

Government failed to address environmental degradation, court says

In rendering its decision about the monument, the court also pointed out environmental degradation that was met with less than an efficient and effective response by the government. Federal judges were also in court, representing the government. According to the government, the Indian Institute of Technology, located in Kanpur, has been “assessing pollution levels,” notes the Telegraph.

The marble has fallen prey to a combination of environmental pollutants: particulate matter associated with nearby industries, diesel and kerosene from household generators, and insects borne from garbage in the adjacent Yamuna River form clusters all gravitate to the marble monument.

Naturally occurring oxidization is another element the building has faced as a facet of a “hostile surroundings,” so wrote the Weather Network.

Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan had the Taj Mahal built after his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died from childbirth complications.

With approximately 400 years of survival since its completion, the monument, built as a testament to enduring love, the Smithsonian Magazine believes India’s high court is “bluffing.” The federal government, however, is not willing to run the risk that the court is pulling no punches.

Government to produce 100-year plan for Taj Mahal

In response to the court’s mandate to restore the beloved and much-visited Taj Mahal, the government conveyed that it was submitting a 100-year plan. The plan will reportedly entail a two-prong approach to the pollution in the Yamuna River. Pollution will be cleaned up and prevented.

Cleaning up the Taj Mahal is a massive undertaking and investment for India, yet the rewards will be worth it, Smithsonian pointed out. The monument draws approximately 700,000 visitors each day. The Taj Mahal is India’s top tourism magnet.

Lessening environmental impact on monument means decreasing daily visitors

With people, there is an inevitable human imprint, such as oil from visitors’ hands.

To help remedy and reduce the level of pollutants, the Archaeological Survey of India is endeavoring to see visitors capped at 400,000 a day. A time limit of three hours has also been imposed for each tourist.

Another approach to help the Taj Mahal remain standing was proposed in July by The Diplomat, suggesting that the government implement its “Adopt A Heritage” program. By so doing, private and public sectors in India can pool resources and become responsible for the care of the monument.

Critics of the plan prefer that “smaller monuments” be tried as an initial test before outsourcing the responsibility of one the country’s most treasured and historic icons.

Dr. Rakesh Behari is an Agra-based conservationist.

He stated that a system of checks and balances should be intact before “such a big step” as including the Taj Majal in the “Adopt A Heritage” program is used as an option.

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