Ahead of the much-awaited visit of US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania to Agra next week, the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has mounted a massive image makeover of the Taj city.
According to reports, over 500 cusecs of water have been released by the state irrigation department into the Yamuna after the sorry plight of the river was highlighted by media and activists of the River Connect Campaign.
Trump is scheduled to visit Ahmedabad and New Delhi on February 24 and 25.
“Keeping in mind US President Trump’s visit to Agra, 500 cusecs of water has been released from the Ganganahar to improve the environmental condition of the Yamuna,” said state Irrigation Department’s Superintending Engineer Dharmender Singh Phogat.
“This water will reach the Yamuna in Mathura by February 20 and Agra by February 21 afternoon,” he added.
The river, often called the lifeline of Delhi and UP and passes through these states besides Uttarakhand and Haryana, has remained dry and polluted from industrial and sewage wastes being released in the last few decades.
In the last two days, copious quantities of water have been released and men and machines mobilised to clean up the river bed right behind the Taj Mahal, just in case the president spends more time at the rear to view the Agra Fort and the river.
Responding to yellowing and dirt patches charges by local environmentalists, the Archaeological Survey of India has undertaken cleaning up of the monument in a big way, using the mud pack therapy to remove dark spots. The Taj Mahal should be ready by Friday, officials indicated on Thursday.
The big drain, which is the chief source of the foul smell, is being cleaned up on the eastern gate of the Taj Mahal from where Trump and his team will enter the monument. Trees along the route have been cut and spruced up to allow the clear visibility to security agents. A half a dozen American teams have already checked and verified the data collected by the district administration. Nothing is being left to chance.
It will be a memorable visit in many respects, tourism industry captains have said. Tourism should get a big boost with this visit, they hoped.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had visited the city recently to review the preparations for Donald Trump’s visit.
Meanwhile, in a bid to spruce up the city to welcome Trump and his wife, shops have been painted in one colour and illegal hoardings removed or cut in one format to avoid visual discomfort.
Besides all the arrangements, Melania Trump is likely to visit a Delhi government school in the national capital on Tuesday to watch the “happiness curriculum”, sources said on Thursday.
India hopes to sign a trade deal with the United States during Trump’s visit. However, the US president said on Wednesday that he might postpone the trade agreement till the US presidential elections. “We’re not treated very well by India, but I happen to like Prime Minister Modi a lot,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Congress on Tuesday lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Gujarat, accusing it of trying to “hide poverty” by constructing the wall, PTI reported. The party mocked the “Gujarat model of development”, pointing to the construction of the wall.
The city’s municipal corporation has reportedly built a four-foot-high wall to hide a stretch of slums on the American leader’s route.
Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are expected to inaugurate and share the stage at Ahmedabad’s Motera cricket stadium at a public reception being touted as “Namaste Trump” on February 24.