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Smog and pollution from a trash-filled, sewage-laden river is discoloring one of the seven Wonders of the World.
The Taj Mahal’s white marble is turning a hazy shade of yellowish green due to pollution from the surrounding city of Agra, environmental lawyers recently informed India’s Supreme Court.
India’s iconic white marble mausoleum is on the outskirts of the eighth-most polluted city in the world. Thick smog from the numerous factory smoke stacks in Agra is fading the monument’s pearly sheen. And just feet from the Taj Mahal is the shore of the Yamuna River — a murky sludge that is filled with garbage and sewage from the residents of nearby Agra — which attracts millions of bugs whose excrement then further stains the monument’s once pristine marble.
The city’s congested roads wind around the Taj Mahal creating more clouds of pollution, and a bevy of nearby construction projects are also contributing to the landmark’s rapid discoloring.
Environmentalists and conservationists have warned of the monument’s yellowing for decades. The lawyer who presented the recent case to the Supreme Court of India, M.C. Mehta, has been fighting to preserve the Taj Mahal for 30 years. “If the Indian scientists and the [conservationists] can’t do the things, they should be able to contact foreign experts or conservationists, those who can come and they will be readily happy to help,” he told the court.
So far, the best restorers have been able to do is to slowly scrub the monument with a clay mineral paste that is supposed to help remove the stains without damaging the marble. But it is unclear if the government would take further action to help preserve the Taj Mahal’s original color.
The iconic monument, on many globetrotters’ travel bucket lists, was built in the 17th century by Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial and final resting place for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.
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