Class XI students Vineet Prakash and Mani Raj Singh had written to President Pranab Mukherjee on December 15, seeking his intervention to restore the glory of the mausoleum, on the wane because of a foul smell emanating from the water body around it in Sasaram district.
The letter, a copy of which is with The Telegraph, said the dirty water had not been cleaned for decades because of the apathetic attitude of authorities and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which looks after the heritage site.
In the letter the boys said it was not only sending a wrong message to tourists but could also cause serious diseases because of air pollution.
The students had earlier chalked out a detailed plan to clean the water, something they showcased at a science exhibition in Ranchi in February. Their plan also got appreciation at a function in Rohtas during World Heritage Week.
Taking cognisance of their letter, Chirabrata Sarkar, undersecretary in the President's secretariat, wrote to the Union ministry of culture, seeking appropriate action in the manner suggested by the boys. "A copy of the letter from the President's Secretariat reached our school on February 7," Vineet said over phone on Wednesday.
Asked how they proposed to clean up the water, they said it should be drained out and treated for microbes. Mani said bleaching could be a way out, but they wanted experts to vet it for side effects first. He admitted it was not something they would be able to carry out on their own without the backing, financial and otherwise, of the authorities concerned.
The duo have launched a campaign on the social media too. "We have launched a campaign under the caption 'Revolution against pollution (RAP)' on Facebook to garner support from people to restore the mausoleum's past glory," Vineet said. "Though we get moral support from our school principal Aruradha Verma and trustee Rahul Verma, we don't have the money to carry it out," Vineet said.
Neeraj Singh, assistant (inspection) at the mausoleum, said around 2.5 lakh tourists visit the site annually and the figure is rising. Around 150 tourists come from abroad.
Enthused by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the boys wrote to him but are yet to hear from the PMO. "We've also approached MP Chedi Paswan and Union minister Upendra Kushwaha," Vineet said.
Superintendent of archaeology (Patna circle) Hemsagar A. Naik said the department was aware of the problem and would try to sort it out during 2015-16. "The students' initiative is laudable," he said.
Siddhanth Prasad, a resident, claimed the water got polluted after residents started dumping filth and garbage into it. "About three decades ago, it was so pure, people used to take water from here to prepare their food and for other household work," he said.