Decks have been cleared for an international airport at Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal, it was officially disclosed in Lucknow.
"In principle, the union government has accepted our proposal for an international airport at Agra," Uttar Pradesh Tourism Minister Kaukab Hameed said. "A team of experts is shortly being sent from New Delhi to prepare a techno-feasibility report," he added.
Despite being India's most sought-after tourist destination, Agra was without a civilian airport and tourists were required to drive down all the way from New Delhi.
According to a study carried out by the union tourism ministry, about 35 per cent of foreign tourists visit India only to see the Taj Mahal, that is not only Agra's number one landmark but also India's top heritage site.
Besides, Agra has two other world heritage monuments - the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
Hameed, who is all excited about the project, has already got the state machinery to complete the necessary groundwork.
"A large chunk of 1,700 acres of land has already been earmarked on the Agra-Mathura road for the international airport; we hope to commence work on it by the end of December," he said.
"The need for an international airport at Agra was overdue as the existing airport there essentially belongs to the Indian Air Force and was therefore not freely accessible," he pointed out.
The proposed airport is expected to be built with joint participation of the public and private sector. "Leading private players have already evinced great interest in the project," he said.