The Government of India just announced its intention to rip down the four famous minarets of the Taj Mahal and re-construct them in a new, lightweight polymer used in ocean-going racing yachts.
As early as 1652 it was reported that the Taj Mahal was sinking - built on the banks of river Yamuna in Agra, the Taj Mahal's architects took great care to distribute its weight evenly, but just four years after its completion cracks were discovered, which had to be repaired. 250 years later, in 1810, more serious cracks re-surfaced, apparently because the northern side of the Taj was lower than south by 3-4 cms, threatening to topple it into the river.
Then last year Professor Avril Buffon of the University of Nantes reported that a recent survey undertaken in partnership with the Government of India's Archaeological Survey of India (who run the Taj), had discovered that the underground vaults were crumbling. Professor Buffon's radical solution was to move the whole structure 800 metres to the south east - but so far the Government of India has baulked. Last week they unveiled their own solution - dismantling the heavy minarets and rebuilding them in the lighter material. V. J. Shah, Delhi's minister for historic monuments, also announced that they would be selling off slabs of the milk-white marble from the minarets to what he called 'sponsors' in a bid to pay for the renovations. This drew a furious response from Hafiz Usman of the Sunni Waqf Board in Uttar Pradesh state, who have claimed ownership of the Taj Mahal for many years.
Professor Buffon commented: "It will only be a matter of time before they realise that the only solution is to move the structure - lock, stock and tonneau"
A petition has been started to pressurise the Government of India to reconsider.
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