India's iconic Taj Mahal has become peppered with green and brown spots from pollution, and the country's Supreme Court ordered the government to find a way to restore the famous white marble building.
Justices Madan Lokur and Deepak Gupta were shocked when they were presented with images of spots during a hearing Tuesday. They ordered government officials to consult with local and international experts to prevent further damage to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“Earlier it was turning yellow, and now it is becoming brown and green. It is very serious. It seems you are helpless. It has to be saved," the justices said, according to The Times of India.
"You can get help from experts from outside to assess the damage done and restore it. ... There seems to be lack of will and expertise,” they added.
Pollution, nearby construction and insect droppings likely caused the damage.
Lokur and Gupta said they wanted a plan to restore the building, located in the northern city of Agra.
The Taj Mahal was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The building attracts up to 50,000 tourists each day from around the world and about 7 million people a year. The Archaeological Survey of India, which runs the site, limited visits last month to three hours per person.
In the 1990s, India's Supreme Court ordered the closure of hundreds of factories near the Taj Mahal in order to protect it from pollution.
The World Health Organization said Wednesday that 14 of the 15 most polluted cities in the world are in India.