Agra gets makeover before Trump's visit, water released into Yamuna
Uttar Pradesh's Agra boasts of the Taj Mahal but it also is one of the dirtiest tourist destinations around the world. However, the town has undergone a series of changes recently and is all decked up for US President Donald Trump's visit. Though Trump and his wife Melania Trump, will spend just a couple of hours there, the administration has done elaborate renovations.
Trump's first visit to India as the US President is sure to hog global headlines. Along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he will inaugurate the world's biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad. The Trumps will also spend some time in New Delhi and Agra. Visiting the Mughal monument in Agra always features in the itinerary of high-profile guests, and Trump is no different.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said Trump should feel he has arrived at a festival when he sets foot in Agra. And following his diktat, the administration is working diligently. This week, 500 cusecs of water was released into the Yamuna river by the state Irrigation Department. Aimed at improving the environmental condition of Yamuna, the water will reach Agra by February 21.
"This will also improve the oxygen level in the Yamuna in Mathura and in Agra. This move may not make the Yamuna's water fit for drinking, but could reduce the foul smell from the river," said UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) assistant engineer Arvind Kumar.
The administration has also given a great deal of attention to the path Trump will take to reach the Taj Mahal. The 15-km stretch was divided into five zones and 20 sectors. He will be protected by three circles. The primary circle will be formed by the US Secret Service, the National Security Guards will form the second one, and local police the third.
Trump's bulletproof limousine 'The Beast' has arrived at Agra and it will be accompanied by 69 other vehicles. Agra Tourist Welfare Chamber Secretary Vishal Sharma said that city tours will remain canceled that day. The local police also verified houses, shops, and restaurants that fall in Trump's route. Local vendors said they were asked to produce Aadhaar cards as part of verification.
Since the Taj Mahal will be where all the action will happen, Adityanath has laid down strict instructions. He ordered to remove waste, especially used water bottles, surrounding the monument. The mudpack treatment given to graves of emperor Shahjahan and his beloved Mumtaz was also reviewed. This morning, fountains were cleaned and laborers were spotted scrubbing the footpath. The walls in Agra were painted too.