Air pollution in India has hit record levels, and India’s most iconic and most visited attraction is attempting something to make tourists more comfortable.
One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal sits in Agra in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state, around 130 miles (210 kilometers) south of New Delhi. Approximately eight million people tour this UNESCO World Heritage site every year.
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According to authorities in Uttar Pradesh, a “private firm” has provided several air purification vans for the city to use wherever and however they want. Officials chose to place two of these vans at the Taj Mahal. Few details on how the vans work or how long they would be there were given.
Bhuvan Prakash Yadav, a representative from the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) told CNN, “This is on a trial basis for 10 days, but we are trying to get [the private firm] to continue it for some more time.”
Although the identity of the private firm was never confirmed, ads for telecom giant, Vodafone, are featured on the side of a few of the vans.
According to CNN, Yadav also said that each van is able to purify 1.5 million cubic meters (53 million cubic feet) of air in eight hours. Yet, the vans don’t have sensors, so verification of these numbers isn’t possible.
It may be the vans are more for public relations purposes than actually cleaning air.
India’s high court challenged the government to take better care of the site in 2018. Much recent damage to the Taj Mahal has come from pollution in the air and contamination in the nearby Yamuna River. Since then, crowd control in the form of a visitor time limit and hiked ticket prices have been implemented.
Air pollution has been an ongoing and serious problem in India, home to 22 of the 30 most polluted cities on the planet. New Delhi, India’s capital city is the number one most polluted city in the world. Lately, pollution levels reached a record high of approximately 9x more than the World Health Organization’s recommended “safe” level – the problem is rated “severe.”
Fossil fuel usage, crop burning and vehicle exhaust have all contributed to the problem.
Planes are even getting diverted from landing at New Delhi’s airport. Authorities say control measures are in place, but they will not be enough to stop the damage to Indian property and lives – the damage is already being done.