Pollution threatens national monument

An Indian tomb under consideration for World Heritage Site status is in danger of being ruined by toxic pollutants.

The Tomb of Sher Shah Suri

The Tomb of Sher Shah Suri

The tomb of Sher Shah Suri, also known as Sher Khan - the Lion King - in the north eastern state of Bihar is at risk of crumbling into the ornamental pond which surrounds it as the acidic water undermines its foundations.

The five-storey mausoleum is built on a stone plinth in the centre of the man-made pond, or tank, in the town of Sasaram.

Poor maintenance and a lack of funding and education of the locals has lead to the water of the tank turning into an acidic, toxic soup that is eating into the plinth it was built to beautify.

Effluent running into the pond, detergents from people using it to wash clothes along with toxic paints and heavy metals from Hindu idols immersed in its waters for ceremonial purposes have all added to the pollution.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has named the stunning 16th Century monument a site of national heritage and it is currently under consideration by Unesco for World Heritage Site status.

But recent tests have shown the acidity of the waters are causing serious damage to the tomb.

According to the ASI the root of the problem can be traced back to 1980, when local authorities gave permission for the immersion of idols in the waters after a nearby tank dried up.

Over 25 years of the practice have seen the water quality plummet.

ASI official Neeraj Kumar has called on state authorities to step in to fund the clean-up of the pool, ban the immersion of idols once again and put a moratorium on development within 200 yards of the site, as run off from homes and businesses is also impacting on water quality.

"If urgent steps are not taken immediately to preserve this stone mausoleum, it would be impossible to save the tomb of Sher Shah Suri for future generations," he said.

"The tank's water has turned acidic. It is posing a serious threat to the mausoleum's life."

Sam Bond



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