Massive image makeover for Taj Mahal, focus on Yamuna health ahead of US President Trump's visit
Agra, Feb 20 (IANS): Ahead of US President Donald Trump's visit to the Taj city next week, the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has mounted a massive image makeover of the city, which people are calling "unprecedented".
More than 900 cusecs of water have been released by the state irrigation department, after the sorry plight of the river Yamuna was highlighted by reporters and activists of the River Connect Campaign.
The dry and polluted river bed was an eyesore that could foul the mood of the visiting dignitaries, locals pointed out.
In the last two days, copious quantities of water have been released and men and machines mobilised to clean up the river bed right behind the Taj Mahal, just in case the president spent more time at the rear to view the Agra Fort and the holy river.
Responding to yellowing and dirt patches charges by environmentalists, the Archaeological Survey of India has undertaken cleaning up of the monument in a big way, using the mud pack therapy to remove dark spots.
The Taj Mahal should be ready by Friday, officials indicated on Thursday.
District authorities said more than 3,000 artistes from Agra, Mathura, Vrindavan will present cultural programmes on the way, including Ram Lila, Ras Lila, Panchkula, Nautanki.
Over 20,000 school kids who have been screened, will line up the route with flags to bring cheer and add to the festivities.
Administrative officials said beggars have been forced out of the city. The MG Road and the VIP road from the Kheria airport to the Taj Mahal will be sanitised and made beggar-less.
The big drain -- a chief source of foul smell -- apart from the riverbank, is being cleaned up on the eastern gate of the Taj Mahal from where Trump and his team will enter the 17th-century Mughal monument of love.
Trees along the route have been cut and spruced to allow for clear visibility to security agents.
Half-a-dozen American teams have already checked and verified the data collected by the district administration. Nothing is being left to chance.
It will be a memorable visit in many respects, say tourism industry captains. Tourism should get a big boost, they hoped.
The state of preparedness and competence of the local administration and the security apparatus will also be tested, they said.