India's top court has declared the seventh wonder of the world, Taj Mahal's preservation from environmental degradation as a "hopeless cause."
"Either we shut down the Taj or demolish it or you restore it," the court said on Wednesday, criticising government's apathy over the issue.
The historic monument built by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan as a mausoleum to his wife Mumtaz Mahal in Agra, is located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
"Eighty million people [annually] visit the Eiffel Tower, which looks like a TV tower," the judges told India’s federal government and the state government. "Our Taj is more beautiful, and if you had looked after it your country’s foreign exchange problem would have been solved [through additional visitors]," the court noted.
"If the Indian scientists and the (conservationists) can’t do the things, they should be able to contact foreign experts or conservationists, those who can come and they will be readily happy to help," said lawyer M.C. Mehta earlier in May, who has been fighting to save the Taj Mahal from pollution for three decades, Reuters reported.
The once pearly white 17th-century mausoleum has continued to wither, slowly turning yellow and green as it is exposed to the city's pollution. Environmentalists, historians have continued to warn about the risk of soot and fumes from factories and tanneries dulling the ivory monument.
The restoration process is underway as the restorers use a paste of a clay mineral to clean the marble to pull away impurities from the surface, which can then be washed off with water.
Noting the urgency of Taj’s preservation, the top court said that it will hear the matter every day starting July 31.
Earlier last month, the Indian government introduced 500-meter radius around 100 historical sites, including the Taj Mahal, into pollution-free zones.