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Scientists Try To Save Taj Mahal

August 12, 1998

LUCKNOW, India (AP) _ Black coal smoke has wafted out of about 200 iron foundries near the Taj Mahal for years, slowly turning the building’s white marble to yellow.

Now scientists hope to save the darkening mausoleum with a new type of furnace design that will help the foundries cut emissions, the government’s top research organization said Tuesday.

Tests showed that redesigned furnaces using natural gas instead of coal drastically cut toxic emissions, said director-general of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, R.A. Mashelkar.

In recent years, the Supreme Court has issued a series of orders ranging from moving the foundries out of the area to planting more trees to combat pollution in Agra, the city where the Taj Mahal is located.

Mashelkar said that while converting coal-burning furnaces will be costly, it will be cheaper than moving out of Agra or shutting down.

Experts say the marble has been stained by pollution and its stones have been chipped, but the 17th-century building is structurally sound.

In April, several groups launched a preservation project to polish the once-white marble.

The Taj Mahal was built by Mogul emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his queen, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child. It attracts 3 million tourists a year.

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