Preserving the Taj Mahal
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The Taj Mahal has been diagnosed with a life threatening disease; Marble Cancer. Experts predicted that if the air in Agra was not monitored and cleaned, the exterior of the mausoleum would, eventually turn black.
Up until 1993, 1700 factories in and around Agra were belching out noxious fumes and gases, most of them illegally, and the Supreme Court ordered the closure of 212 industrial plants in Agra. The situation was critical,
when the smog was most intense, it was impossible to see the Red Fort, just 1 mile [1.6 kilometers] away across the Yamuna River. In 1998 UNESCO, in conjunction with the French company Rhone-Poulenc and the Archaeological Survey of India spearheaded a clean up programmed.
The restoration objectives included the cleaning of the marble, research into the cleaning products and waterproofing. To prevent rain damage and algae growth special silicone-based agents have been applied to the façade.
A green buffer zone was also established around the Taj Mahal and prohibits the construction of industrial plants and supports the planting of trees and shrubs. Oil refineries have been ordered to reduce their pollutant levels and coal based brick kilns have been banned or ordered to switch to gas.
Traffic is also a significant problem in Agra, with high levels of carbon monoxide in the air. The city and the surrounding area have 5.5 million people living there and attract 7 million tourists annually. Battery charged buses now function to take people to and from the Taj Mahal. Although the positive effects of these prohibitions is questionable.