Is Taj Mahal really turning yellow?
May 20, 2007 - 8:36:02 AM

Agra, May 20 - A parliamentary committee headed by Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India-Marxist's - has expressed deep concern over the Taj Mahal turning yellow. The committee has asked for urgent measures to initiate remedial steps.

However, the Archaeological Survey of India - circles and historians in Agra do not seem to agree with the committee. The ASI circles feel that the building is being well looked after.

The Taj Mahal, according to one historian, is a unique building, which reflects several moods and changes according to weather and time of the day. During the hot summer months when the sun is at its brightest the white marble mausoleum appears jaundiced, but after the rains it is again sparkling white.

Local guides and travel agents also feel the Taj Mahal has not yellowed. 'If it appears yellowish in the afternoon blame it on the weather conditions and the age of the structure. Marble is a delicate stone,' a guide at the monument said.

Renowned Mughal historian R. Nath said, 'Beauty facials and mud packs will not be a lasting solution. The real problem is with the dry river Yamuna. If you want to save the Taj Mahal for posterity release water in the river.'

The Archaeological Survey of India scientists who have been closely monitoring the health of the monument feel the yellowish tinge does not reflect the health of the Taj Mahal, which is generally healthy.

Samadhia, a scientist, said the data was regularly analysed and reported. 'No alarming signals have been detected,' said another chemical analyst.

However, ASI and other agencies looking after pollution in the Taj Trapezium Zone agree the suspended particulate matter - level has continued to remain alarmingly high. They say dust particles affect the monument's surface.

The dry Yamuna bed for most part of the year raises enough dust to scrub the surface of the white marble monument, leaving pockmarks. In recent years, dust laden westerly winds from neighbouring Rajasthan desert have further compounded this problem of SPM.

The Aravali range used to act as a barrier and prevented dust laden winds from entering Agra and neighbouring districts. However, local environmentalists say large-scale mining activity in the Aravalis has created huge gaps, right from Dhaula Kuan in Delhi to Banaskantha district of Gujarat.

On the basis of a public interest litigation - filed in 1993, the Supreme Court had directed the Uttar Pradesh forest department to plant several rows of trees on the western border of Agra to create a green filter. But there has been no movement in this direction because of lack of resources.

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