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IIT-Kanpur to study nature of pollutants damaging Taj Mahal

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has commissioned IIT-Kanpur to conduct a source-apportionment study and chemical speciation (chemical characterisation) of air pollution damaging the Taj Mahal.

india Updated: Oct 13, 2018 08:11 IST
Jayashree Nandi
Jayashree Nandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
IIT-Kanpur,Taj Mahal,CPCB
Professor Mukesh Sharma of the department of civil engineering at IIT-Kanpur will lead the study that will use air mass samples from CPCB’s Taj Mahal station to study the nature of the dominant particulate matter and gases around the iconic mausoleum.(PTI/File Photo)

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has commissioned IIT-Kanpur to conduct a source-apportionment study and chemical speciation (chemical characterisation) of air pollution damaging the Taj Mahal. The study will be submitted to CPCB after a month.

Professor Mukesh Sharma of the department of civil engineering at IIT-Kanpur will lead the study that will use air mass samples from CPCB’s Taj Mahal station to study the nature of the dominant particulate matter and gases around the iconic mausoleum. Data from the station, set up in 2002, will be used to identify the source and direction the pollutants are coming from.

The assessment will include sources of air pollution that have not been studied before, such as the nature of the Yamuna riverbed dust or the gases emanating from the river that is highly contaminated with sewage.

Road dust and emissions from transport and industries in the Taj Trapezium zone, an area of about 10,400 sq km covering parts of UP and Bharatpur in Rajasthan, will also be studied as sources of pollution.

“If Taj Mahal goes once, you will not get a second chance,” a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta had said recently. The apex court, which is hearing environmental lawyer MC Mehta’s petition for protection of India’s most identifiable historical monument, is monitoring the maintenance of Taj Mahal.

Sharma’s team has started examining samples from Taj Mahal station during the summer months, when pollution is higher than during the rains.

According to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), there is no doubt that the condition of Taj is deteriorating because of air pollution. “We are responsible for the Taj Mahal from a structural point of view but there are various issues that affect it, especially poor air quality,” said ASI spokesperson, DN Dimri.

Another heritage expert from ASI who declined to be named said the problem is acute in summer. “Insects from the sewage crawl on the Taj and leave their excrement, leading to yellowish patches,” said Dimri.

“Air pollution levels in Agra are comparable with Delhi. The Taj will not be able to withstand the impact of these two sources,” he said.

A team from IIT Kanpur and Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta had published a study on the effect of particulate pollution on the Taj in 2014.

“We had taken particulate matter measurements for one year and found that particulates, particularly carbonaceous PM, was causing discolouration of Taj,” said SN Tripathi, professor at the Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering at IIT Kanpur, and one of the authors of the 2014 study.

First Published: Oct 13, 2018 07:34 IST