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No clearance for Martin's show at Taj Mahal

Ricky Martin is slated to perform at an AIDS awareness campaign in Agra in February.

india Updated: Jan 03, 2006 19:49 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

A global initiative to create awareness about AIDS has announced that singer Ricky Martin will perform near the Taj Mahal inAgra in February but Indian authorities are yet to clear the show in view of concerns about its impact on the white marble monument.

A team of event managers responsible for the Ricky Martin show here Feb 25 - which will kick off a series of worldwide concerts to raise awareness about children affected by HIV/AIDS - met senior officials of the Uttar Pradesh government and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) as well as tourism industry leaders to identify the venue for the concert.

But officials of the ASI, which is responsible for maintaining the Mughal-built 17th century monument of love, confirmed no decision had been taken on the organisers' formal application to perform near the Taj Mahal.

"A decision has to come from the director general's office in New Delhi," said an ASI official. "Till then nobody knows where the programme will be held."

Due to restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court, no programme can be held either within the Taj Mahal complex or within 500 metres of the mausoleum.

"They should have first secured permission from the apex court and then announced the event. Now the show is destined to be mired in controversies like the 1997 show by (musician) Yanni," said NGO activist Vinay Paliwal.

Most Agra resident have little idea about who Ricky Martin is and his contribution to the campaign against HIV.

Sudhir Gupta, an advocate, said: "The city gains nothing from such events. Yanni promised to give Rs.100 million. Till this day no one knows whether this promise was kept."

The only venue for a concert is the Yamuna riverbed, a kilometre away from the Mehtab Bagh, on the other bank of the river from the Taj Mahal, say administrative officials.

"As there is no water in the river, there will not be any problems," said an official.

But the organisers would have to be careful about putting up structures and using generators for light, as the Supreme Court is not likely to relax any of its restrictive conditions, pointed out environmentalists Netra Pal Singh and Megh Singh Yadav.

First Published: Dec 28, 2005 16:43 IST