Taj Mahal

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  • Topic: World Heritage Site, Shah Jahan, Taj Mahal
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  • Published : July 26, 2009
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Historical Background of Taj
Industries in Agra and their effect

Historical Background of Taj

The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum located in Agra, India, built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal (also "the Taj") is considered the finest example of Mughal architecture, a style that combines elements from Persian, Indian, and Islamic architectural styles. In 1983, the Taj Mahal became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was cited as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage." Industries in Agra and their effect Environmental Protection of Taj Mahal

Environmental Protection of Taj Mahal
Although the Taj Mahal may appear to the untrained eye almost as perfect as the day it was completed, the marble is undeniably sullen and yellow in parts, and empty casings here and there betray lost precious stones. These are the early effects of the threat posed by pollution from traffic and industry, and the millions of tourists who visit the tomb year-round. While marble is all but impervious to the onslaught of wind and rain that erodes softer sandstone, it has no natural defence against the sulphur dioxide that lingers in a dusty haze and shrouds the monument; sometimes the smog is so dense that the tomb cannot be seen from the fort. Sulphur dioxide mixes with atmospheric moisture and settles as sulphuric acid on the surface of the tomb, making the smooth white marble yellow and flaky, and forming a subtle fungus that experts have named "marble cancer".

Main Sources of Pollution around the Taj Mahal
The main sources of pollution are the continuous flow of vehicles along the national highways that skirt the city, and the 1700 factories in and around Agra - chemical effluents belched out from their chimneys are well beyond safety limits laid down by environmental committees. Despite laws demanding the installation of pollution-control devices, the imposition of a ban on all petrol- and diesel-fuelled traffic within 500m of the Taj Mahal, and an exclusion zone marking 10,400 square kilometres around the complex that should be free of any new industrial plants, pollutants in the atmosphere have continued to rise (many blame the diesel generators of nearby hotels), and new factories have been set up illegally. In 1993, the Supreme Court finally took action and ordered nearly three hundred plants to shut down until emissions fell to legal limits. Cleaning work on the Taj Mahal rectifies the problem to some extent, but the chemicals used will themselves eventually affect the marble. In early 2005, they launched an investigation into claims that decreased water levels in the Yamuna have led to dangerous tilts in the Taj's minarets, and fears that unless something is done to restore the Yamuna to previous levels, the entire building could collapse.

India has experienced exponential industrial growth in recent years. Increasingly, people have left villages for urban centers in order to try and find work. The result of this industrialization has often been overcrowded cities and dense pollution. Agra is no exception. It has been identified as a "pollution intensive zone" by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is estimated that the area around the Taj contains five times the amount of suspended particles (such as sulfur dioxide) that the Taj Mahal could handle without sustaining everlasting damage. India has been involved in a "greening" campaign particularly in regards to its national monuments.

Legal Standing
India is a signatory to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) World Heritage Convention adopted in 1972. The main goal of the World Heritage Convention is to identify and protect monuments of great cultural and natural heritage...
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