CM Yogi Adityanath to visit Taj Mahal, take part in cleanliness campaign today
This will be Adityanath’s second visit to Agra after taking over as the chief minister and he is likely to stay in the city for about eight hours.india Updated: Oct 26, 2017 10:46 IST
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath will visit the Taj Mahal during his Agra trip on Thursday after a controversy erupted over the 17th-century monument to love.
This will be Adityanath’s second visit to the city after taking over as the chief minister and he is likely to stay in Agra for about eight hours.
The visit comes after controversial Bharatiya Janata Party’s Sardhana legislator Sangeet Som triggered a political slugfest by describing the marble monument as a “blot” on India’s culture and saying it was “built by traitors”. The statement drew widespread criticism.
Adityanath reached the Kheria technical airport in the morning. He will fly in a helicopter to Kachhpura near Mehtab Bagh where he will lay foundation stones for pro-poor development schemes before flying to the other side of the Yamuna.
Four helipads have been set up in various parts of the city for his helicopter to land. Traffic diversions have put in place and the parking at the western gate of Taj Mahal shifted to Ramlila Ground for a day.
He will inaugurate the tourist walkway from Agra Fort following which he will go to the western side of the Taj Mahal for a cleanliness campaign. He will later fly for Nagla Pema to inspect the spot proposed for a rubber check dam on the Yamuna.
The chief minister is expected to spend around two hours at the Taj during which he would sit through a presentation on the monument and inaugurate a children’s painting competition.
The chief minister is also expected to inspect projects for Taj Orientation Centre and a Mughal museum before meeting officials in the circuit house. He will address a public gathering at GIC Ground before leaving for Keetham Bird Sanctuary to promote eco-tourism.
Adityanath will also hold a meeting with the tourism guild of Agra before addressing a scheduled press conference. He is expected to leave for Lucknow by 4.10pm.
Despite traffic diversions and high-level security, the Taj Mahal will remain open for public. Entry of heavy vehicles will, however, be restricted in the city area.
During his earlier visit to the city, the chief minister expressed concern over the state of Yamuna and also laid special stress on an effective check on ‘lapkas’ or touts harassing tourists.
“The chief minister is likely to provide a momentum to tourism. This visit is highly awaited and a mood of optimism prevails,” said Rajeev Saxena from tourism guild of Agra.
The Taj Mahal draws crores of rupees in annual revenue but has received a barrage of negative comments in recent months from top BJP leaders, including Adityanath – who in June said the ivory-white marble mausoleum didn’t represent “Indian culture”.
Adityanath presided over a meeting to review the development projects in Agra on May 7 and also inspected the Yamuna but did not visit the Taj Mahal or areas close to the monument.
On July 11, the Adityanath government did not mention the Taj Mahal in “Humari Sanskritik Virasat” (Our Cultural Heritage), a part of the annual budget presented in the state assembly by the minister for finance Rajesh Agarwal.
Last month, the state government omitted the reference to the Taj Mahal in a booklet published on the completion of six months of the Adityanath government. The move drew sharp criticism, prompting state tourism minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi to remark that the Taj Mahal was of great importance to the state government as well as the nation.
First Published: Oct 25, 2017 17:45 IST