In two years, tourists from Delhi and Kanpur will be drive to the Taj Mahal from the Yamuna Expressway without entering the congested Agra city.
This will be made possible by the Rs. 306 crore inner city Ring Road that will connect the Yamuna Expressway with Fatehabad tourism complex near the Taj Mahal, the foundation stone of which Uttar Pradesh Akhilesh Yadav laid Monday evening, along with that for a long-pending Rs. 108 crore Taj Ganj beautification project.
Agra Development Authority (ADA) secretary Ravindra Kumar said the Jaipur company which got the contract for the Ring Road began work after the "bhoomi pujan".
The work will be completed in two years. In the first phase the 10.9 km elevated stretch will have six lanes. Two more lanes will be subsequently added. New hubs of activity will develop on either side of the Yamuna Expressway. The Agra-Lucknow Expressway project cleared by the state government will further help connectivity, as the two roads will meet at Kuberpur in Agra's Etmadpur tehsil.
After the Yamuna Expressway, a project of the previous Mayawati government, became operational in August 2012, demands were being made by the local tourism industry to connect the Expressway with the Fatehabad road across the Yamuna, in close proximity to the 17th century Taj Mahal. Currently, vehicles coming to Agra from Delhi-Noida via the Expressway have to enter the city and waste precious hours in negotiating traffic to reach the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Ganj beautification project will be a big boost to tourism as the entire area around the Taj Mahal will be spruced and the amenities for tourists streamlined.
"There will be parks, landscapping, new toilets, better roads, lighting, underground cables, shelters, activity zones, covered drains, a golf course, medical facilities and a whole lot of smaller projects that would help tourists spend more time around the Taj Mahal," an ADA official said.