- Earlier in July, this year, the Uttar Pradesh government submitted a draft Vision document in the Supreme Court outlining its plan to conserve Taj Mahal.
Background: A timeline
- In 1984, a petition was moved in the apex court to save the Taj.
- In 1996, the SC urged the Centre to protect the listed monument to come up with an action plan.
- Further an area of 10,400 sq km around the Taj was declared Taj Trapezium Zone covering six districts of UP; Agra, Mathura, Firozabad, Hatras and Etah and one in Rajasthan; Bharatpur.
- The Court directed closing down all polluting factories in Taj Trapezium Zone and rejuvenating the Yamuna River.
- The Taj Protection Mission was set up as a joint venture between Uttar Pradesh government and the Centre in 1996, based on a Supreme Court order.
- In 2015, a Parliamentary Standing Committee report stressed the vulnerability of air pollution to discolouration of Taj.
- Despite repeated warning about the discolouration of the monument, there is lack of coordination between different agencies.
- Thus Supreme Court in July again fired at the Central government and State government for neglecting Taj Mahal.
Highlights of the UP’s draft Vision Document
- The document covers environmental planning, urban planning, transport and heritage conservation.
- It identifies measures at 3 levels namely TTZ, Agra city and Taj precincts.
- Declaring Taj precincts as a no-plastic zone.
- Banning the use of bottled water inside the monument.
- The historic gardens within the monument boundary need to be replaced with authentic plant species based on evidence from archival sources.
City level Measures
- Restricting the increase in polluting and private vehicles.
- Promote Electric vehicles to decrease their environmental footprint
- Promotion of e-rickshaws run on lithium-ion batteries.
- Pedestrian-friendly walkways
Taj Trapezium Zone
- Closure of polluting industries in the Taj Trapezium Zone.
- Ban on construction on the Yamuna Flood Plains.
- River edges must be cleared from the accumulated solid waste
- No untreated sewage discharge should be allowed.
- Promotion of small-scale cottage industries.
- Entry and exit of vehicles run on fossil fuel should be restricted in the TTZ.
Mains reasons behind Discolouration of Taj
- Naturally, marble which become oxidized over time leads to the browning of these mineral.
- Air pollution due to burning of fuel, biomass and garbage is turning white marble dome and minarets into brownish yellow.
- Suspended particulate matter (SPM) level has been a crucial contributor in the corrosion.
- Polluting industries and the vehicular emissions in the Taj Trapezium Zone
- Insect and algae infestation on the Taj Mahal due to polluted banks of Yamuna river.
- Recently the white marble structure was found to be developing greenish-black patches as a result of the release of faeces and dirt by an insect identified as Geoldichironomus.