The Taj Mahal, India’s world-famous monument to love, is sparking a powerful environmental and national heritage movement due to the extreme pollution turning the iconic white building yellow and green. The building’s location in Agra – which ranks eighth on the World Health Organization‘s (WHO) list of most polluted cities – has proven less than ideal when it comes to staying pollution-free. Now, India’s Supreme Court is pushing for better pollution protections in order to preserve the mausoleum’s majesty.
WHO reported that, as of 2016, “92% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed WHO’s Ambient Air Quality guidelines.” It should come as no surprise, then, that the Taj Mahal’s striking white marble is being dyed yellow and green. The nearby Yamuna River also has trash covering its banks, and smog from tanneries and factories further pollutes the surrounding air. Outcries against this environmental and cultural desecration of the beloved mausoleum have prompted India’s government to take swift action. The country’s Supreme Court is leading the charge, with a proposal to ban all plastics, as well as pollution-emitting factories and construction zones, around the building.
In addition, the court justices are advocating for a switch to electric and hydrogen vehicles for the area’s residents, as well as a restoration of green cover within the Taj Mahal’s grounds. Those who wish to visit the structure in its most authentic form need not worry, as “replacing present day lawns with tree cover as it existed originally will increase the biomass,” according to a draft document of the plan. In the past “there have been various studies, various plans, but they have not been implemented in right earnest in a coordinated manner,” explained Divay Gupta of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). This time, though, the justices have said that authorities should either restore the structure or tear it down – and we sincerely hope they choose the former.
Images via Shutterstock