Reiterating the findings of several past studies, the Archaeological Survey of India officials have officially stated that the world heritage monument for love is indeed turning yellow due to the environmental factors, especially from the carbon dioxide particles released by nearby graveyard.
In addition, the sewer lines around the Taj is another worrying factor. The fire from the Hindu graveyard nearby is emanating carbon and dust particles and other harmful gases, said a statement released by ASI officials.
These carbon particles combined with toxic gases from the sewer lines and the river Yamuna reach and settle on the surface of the walls of the historic monument, which has noticeably been turning into yellow from its original colour white.
Admitting that the marble of the Taj Mahal is turning yellow, Dr Bhuvan Vikrama, Superintending Archaeologist of Archaeological Survey of India said, “We are continuing our efforts to remove the dust particles and other harmful gases, so some portions get cleaned but deposition of dust and carbon particles also continue. As a result the process of pollution and cleaning goes on happening in a cycle”.
Interestingly, the ASI version has come out three days after the Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma denied it saying, “Local authorities are taking the necessary steps to reduce pollution around the Taj Mahal. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is regularly monitoring ambient air quality around Taj Mahal and attending to essential conservation, preservation and environmental development works to reduce the effect of pollution on marble surface.”
Listing the ASI efforts, the minister said NO international experts but ASI on its own will carry out the preservation and expressed confidence that the expertise in India is sufficient to protect the monument.
Last year, an Indo-US study had stated that the Taj Mahal was slowly turning yellow. Experts from the Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Wisconsin and the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur and Archaeological Survey of India came to the conclusion that air pollutants were the major cause behind the decay of the colour.
“We found that black carbon gives a greyish colour to the surface while the presence of brown carbon and dust results in yellowish-brown hues,” said S.N. Tripathi of the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, one of the authors of the report.
Last time in 2008, Taj Mahal monument received a mud-pack treatment to remove yellow pollution stains to restore its natural sheen and the original colour of the white marble and archaeologists are planning to undertake it again this year. Prior to 2008, the monument received the localized mud-treatment in 1994 and 2001.
Built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1653 as a mausoleum for his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child, the monument of love sits on the bank of the Yamuna River in Agra, as a testimony to the exemplary architectural skills of Mughal art in India.
The Taj Mahal became a World Heritage Site as per the UNESCO announcement in 1983 and it attracts millions of visitors and state dignitaries. Especially Princess Diana and Rodham Hillary Clinton were among those who had spent hours at the monument in history, while US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle missed the opportunity in January to visit the world heritage site.
Expert member in the Supreme Court-appointed panel, D.K. Joshi also backed the version that the monument is turning yellow and blamed it on environmental and security factors in the vicinity.