In fact, work done at the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute at Nagpur has revealed that SO2 and other emissions from refineries and foundries can certainly affect not only marble (of which the Taj Mahal is made) but even the red sandstone buildings of the tomb of Etmad-ud- daulah, the Fatehpur Sikri complex, and the Red Fort. Some of the ancient temples in Mathura and even the famous bird sanctuary in Ghana forest near Bharatpur may be affected sooner or later, after the refinery starts working.
The Department of Environment, Government of India, has ordered the closure of two coal-fired power stations in Agra and has also persuaded the railway authorities in Agra to switch over from coal to diesel. These steps are aimed at protecting the Taj Mahal from pollution effects. A green belt is also being created around the Taj for the same purpose.
The crude oil intended to be processed in the refinery is estimated to contain up to about 2 per cent sulphur. This is oxidized to S02 and will be emitted from the chimney of the refinery. Thereafter, in the moist atmosphre it is converted to dilute acid which causes decay (cancer) of stone and marble.
Some experts feel that for marble there is no base level of safe tolerance to SO2. Shivaji Rao (1978) strongly feels that due to improper sitting of the Mathura refinery pollution problems are going to cause not only slow but sure discoloring, disfigurement, and deterioration of Taj Mahal and other ancient monuments and also serious public health hazards to the inhabitants of the area.
The famous Humayun’s tomb in Nizamuddin (Delhi) has also been adversely affected by the fumes generated from the Indraprastha power plant.
A few known cases of the harm inflicted by man-made pollution and by industrialization-urbanization to ancient monuments in foreign lands include the marble temples of Acropolis in Athens (Greece), the Cleopatra’s Needle and the Lincoln Memorial in the USA, and the world-famous Madonna in Milan’s Cathedral (Italy). These monuments have already suffered varying amounts of corrosion, spoilage, disfigurement, cancer, or discoloration.