Agra, Dec, 02: The Taj Mahal, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is once again losing its shine. The Taj Mahal, a white marble mausoleum located in Agra city of Uttar Pradesh, attracts millions of visitors from around the globe who come to admire its beauty and learn about its historical significance.
The Taj Mahal’s white marble exterior has faced challenges over the years due to environmental factors and pollution. The monument has been affected by air pollution, acid rain, and other environmental pollutants, leading to discolouration and yellowing of the marble. Now, parts of the Taj Mahal’s pearly-white exterior are turning green and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is in charge of the monument’s conservation and upkeep, is concerned about the green-coloured stains on the monument.
Here’s why Taj Mahal is turning green
The ASI has identified ‘Goeldichironomus’, an insect species that deposits its droppings on the monument’s marble surface, as the culprit for the discolouration on the Taj Mahal.
This pest was first identified in 2015 and is known for causing dark brown and green stains on marble and inlay work. An official from the ASI highlighted that it thrives in the polluted waters of the Yamuna River.
When the brown-green spots first appeared on the Taj Mahal’s surface in 2015, caused by a tiny insect known as Goldie Chironomus, it was dismissed as a temporary issue by the authorities. According to an ASI official, the stains were initially treated with a mudpack, but they have been reappearing every six months, except in 2020 when pollution levels in Agra were unusually low.
An archaeologist at ASI, Rajkumar Patel, said that brown-green spots appear on the monument’s north face adjoining River Yamuna. “The ASI’s chemical branch had devised a way to clean off these stains left by the faecal matter of the insects by washing it off with distilled water and then rubbing the surface with a clean cotton cloth,” he said.
ASI to conduct comprehensive year-long study
Since these stains are appearing year after year, it has become necessary to find a permanent solution to this problem. The Archaeological Survey of India will conduct a year-long study to explore solutions to prevent the green-coloured stains on the Taj Mahal caused by insect faecal matter from the polluted waters of the Yamuna River near the monument.
The ASI said that these insects usually emerge in the Yamuna during March-April and September-October when temperatures range between 28-35 degrees. However, this year, the stains have persisted into late November, indicating an unusual surge in insects and prolonged breeding.
“ASI’s Chemical Branch is undertaking an extensive study to understand the insect’s breeding cycle and proliferation conditions, and methods to prevent them from affecting the Taj Mahal,” said Patel.
Meanwhile, the Agra Tourist Welfare Chamber has linked the escalation in pollution levels in the Yamuna to the halted Taj Barrage construction project. They propose that completing the project could have managed the situation. Their suggestions include either dredging the Yamuna to increase depth or building a barrage downstream from the Taj Mahal to facilitate free-flowing water, thereby preventing insect breeding, which typically occurs in stagnant water.
(With IANS inputs)