The iconic white marble façade of India’s Taj Mahal is being sullied.
The UNESCO world heritage site is slowly turning a greenish-black colour, and the culprit is a huge band of mating insects who are excreting all over the 17th century monument.
The bugs belong to the genus Goeldichironomus, flying insects which breed in stagnant water and land in swarms on stone surfaces. These insects are populating polluted waterways and the dumping of waste in the nearby Yamuna river is being blamed for the rise in their numbers.
The insects feed on algae blooms growing along the river’s banks, so the green stains they leave on the marble of Taj Mahal are mostly chlorophyll residue.
Thankfully, according to India Today, experts believe that the marks won't damage the integrity of the building beyond the discolouration which can be washed away with water, however they do create an additional challenge for the site’s maintenance.
The increased rise in insect numbers is also a worrying sign of pollution levels.
Last week local resident and environmental activist D.K. Joshi filed a petition to India’s National Green Tribunal (NGT) about the growing insect population after noticing more and more waste being dumped into the waterway.
According to the petition, it is the dumping of municipal solid waste in the Yamuna that has led to water stagnation and a high concentration of phosphorus, both of which promote insect breeding.
The NGT have since issued notices to the appropriate authorities including the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, to respond.
India ranks among one of the most polluted countries in the world with 22 of its cities included in the World Health Organisation’s top 50 most polluted cities according to recent figures.