Thursday, August 17, 2017

Insect Swarms Are Turning The Taj Mahal Green With Their Poo

For all of the awful things that dot history — the wars, the disasters, the diseases, the tragedies — there are some things people have done that make you stand aside and bow your head in appreciation. The Great Wall of China. Stonehenge. The Great Pyramids. The heads on Easter Island. They're all huge monuments that have long outlasted their builders and will likely outlast us, too.
At least, that's what we hope. These beacons of humanity's potential all face dangers, some brought about by visitors wanting to see and honor them, and others by the modern world. And although the great monuments have been guarded for centuries, and they have dedicated workers protecting them now, they remain much more fragile than they look.

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The gleaming white, instantly recognizable marble dome of the Taj Mahal is almost synonymous with India. 

It's the nation's crown jewel, a romantic testament to eternal love and a peerless tourist draw. And as it has been many times before, it's under threat.

During World War II, the Taj Mahal's signature dome was outfitted with scaffolding to make it look like a pile of bamboo to enemy bombers.

Air pollution has long threatened the pristine white dome, and when India and Pakistan were at war in the '70s, a green cloth covered the dome to camouflage it.

Now, the Taj Mahal is turning green for another reason: Insects.

It's not so much that swarms are gathering on the structure, but they're flying in and leaving droppings. 

The source of the insects fouling the Taj Mahal is the Yamuna River, which runs right next to India's famous landmark.

The river has become heavily polluted, the perfect breeding ground for tiny nuisance bugs that are then drawn to the white marble walls much like any other tourist.

So, what can be done to stem this nasty flow?

Workers at the Taj Mahal discovered the insect droppings a year ago but didn't figure out that they were coming from the river until recently.

In the meantime, they've been trying to clean the droppings as well as they can. In the past, they've used a traditional recipe of packed mud to clean pollution stains. However, that mud pack doesn't work when it's too hot because the mud dries out too quickly.

So cleaning must be done manually. However, that cleaning puts the delicate and unique artwork on the Taj Mahal at risk.

As if getting your whites their whitest wasn't tough enough, right?

Cleaning up the river will be the key, but that requires a long-term effort.

At present, 52 open drains send waste right into the river, both human and industrial. While they're in operation, cleaning won't last long. 

So officials in Agra need to get their act together, or this one-of-a-kind monument that has survived hundreds of years and threats of bombs and air pollution will be forever disfigured by tiny pests.

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Author: verified_user