After centuries of pollution and neglect resulting in the Taj, a world heritage site, losing its shine and beauty, the government of India has taken measures to contain pollution. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated a metro project aimed at curbing the impact of air pollution on the Taj Mahal.
The rail network, in the northern city of Agra, will connect the 17th Century monument and other historic sites with railway stations and bus stops.
It’s estimated the project will cost Rs 8,379.62 crore ($1.1bn; $854.2m) and take five years to complete.
The Taj Mahal is one of the world’s leading tourist attractions. It draws as many as 70,000 people a day.
Taking part in a virtual ceremony, which was broadcast on Twitter, Mr Modi said that the scheme includes 10 million houses for low-income residents.
He also highlighted his government’s efforts to modernise rail networks nationwide.
In 2018, India’s Supreme Court criticised the government for a “failure” to protect the historic site. India’s Supreme Court has instructed the government to seek foreign help to fix what it described as a worrying change in colour at the Taj Mahal.
“Even if you have the expertise, you are not utilising it. Or perhaps you don’t care,” court justices said.
The court said the famous tomb, built in the 17th Century from white marble and other materials, had turned yellow and was now turning brown and green.
Pollution, construction and insect dung are said to be among the causes.
Justices Madan Lokur and Deepak Gupta examined photographs of the mausoleum submitted by environmentalists and ordered the government to seek expertise from inside India and abroad.
The government has previously shuttered thousands of factories near the Taj Mahal, but activists say its marble is still losing its lustre.
Sewage in the Yamuna River, alongside the palace, attracts insects which excrete waste onto the palace’s walls, staining them.
During May that year, the court had instructed the government to seek foreign help to fix the “worrying change in colour” of the structure, which was built under the rule of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.
The court concluded that the Taj Mahal, constructed from white marble and other materials, was turning various shades of yellow, brown and green. Pollution, construction and insect dung are said to be among the causes.
Constant cleaning required to maintain the building’s original colouring has since worn away at the delicate stonework. The dirt problem is not a new one – several times over the past two decades or so the palace’s white marble has been coated in a mud pack in an attempt to clean it – but there are fears the problem is worsening. Its most recent mud bath began in January. Scaling the walls on scaffolds, workers plaster the surfaces with Fuller’s earth, a mud paste that absorbs dirt, grease, and animal excrement.
The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the city of Agra and is now one of the world’s leading tourist attractions.