Taj Mahal to get Rs.1.4 mn mudpack treatment: Soni

March 4th, 2008 - 10:21 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Ambika Soni

New Delhi, March 4 (IANS) The government will spend Rs.1.4 million in giving the Taj Mahal a mudpack treatment to clean up its yellowing marble surfaces in the first phase, Tourism Minister Ambika Soni told the Rajya Sabha Tuesday. She said the clay pack method, a scientific way of cleaning marble surfaces, would safely and effectively remove superficial accretions. The treatment would be carried out in two phases, the minister said.

“In the first phase, work on the arches, including the marble screens and platform terrace walls of the monument facing river Yamuna, has already been initiated and expected to be completed by second week of June 2008 at an estimated cost of Rs.1.4 million,” she told the house.

The minarets of the 17th century monument in Agra would be taken up in the next phase, Soni said.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has set up an air pollution laboratory near the Taj Mahal that regularly monitors the air quality in the surrounding area since 1982.

The average level of suspended particulate matter is five times higher than the permissible limit prescribed for monuments.

This causes the yellowing of the marble surfaces, particularly in rain-sheltered areas such as marble cladding in the arches of the main mausoleum and market brackets, she explained.

The minister said the treatment has been adopted since 1983-84 and is an internationally recognised method. It has been successfully used in Britain and Italy, she said.

Detailing the treatment, she said the marble surface, which is cleaned, is first covered with a two-mm thick layer of Fuller’s earth paste that is prepared in distilled water. The mudpack is then covered with polythene sheets.

“When the paste dries naturally, it is removed from the surface with soft nylon brushes and the treated surface is washed with distilled water. The accretions are absorbed by the paste, leaving the stone surface clean,” she explained.

Soni said the method was “non-abrasive, non-corrosive and quiet effective in the removal of adherent accretionary deposits”.

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