Uttar Pradesh vies with Gujarat in welcoming Trump
Agra: What Gujarat can do, Uttar Pradesh can do better, is the mantra that is guiding the hectic preparations for US President Donald Trump's February 24 visit to the Taj city. The Yogi Adityanath government is keen to present a dynamic profile of Uttar Pradesh which is on a development spree.
Trump visit will add feathers to Yogi's cap. Already, Uttar Pradesh is on a high with gold and platinum findings in Sonbhadra and Lalitpur, respectively.
The state irrigation department has discharged copious quantity of fresh water from canals of the Ganga to fill up the river Yamuna in Agra, to make sure Trump is not put off by visual pollution and the stink in the holy river.
Officials said the water from Gokul barrage will reach Agra on Sunday.
"This is the first time that such an arrangement has been made. We wish the Yamuna river remained full of water round the year," said Shravan Kumar Singh of the River Connect Campaign.
Officials indicated Saturday morning that the visiting dignitary will take a battery operated golf cart to the Taj Mahal from Shilpgram complex.
US security personnel have verified credentials of the drivers. Senior Superintendent of Police Bablu Kumar on Saturday briefed the drivers and gave them useful tips.
The Agra Municipal Corporation and the Agra Development Authority officials are working round the clock to dress up the VIP road, the 12-km stretch from the Kheria airport to the Shilpgram complex, 500 metres from the Taj Mahal's eastern entrance.
The Fatehabad tourist complex road has been widened, painted, greened and cleaned up. Traffic signals and signages have a new look.
The US security agencies personnel, already in Agra will take care of the personal security of president Trump.
The state government will deploy 10,000 policemen along the road, roof tops, road crossings, trees and just about everywhere. The river police squad has been activated, and it will patrol the river when the water level increases on Sunday. Satellites will monitor the security arrangements, it was claimed.
At the Kheria airport, the visiting dignitary and delegation members will be treated to cultural programmes, Sri Krishna Ras Lila, peacock dance and charkula dances.
On the way, thousands of children will greet the guests with flags, and artistes will present cultural programmes.
At 21 spots along the 14 km route, there will be cultural programmes to create an atmosphere of a festival. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on February 18 asked officials in Agra to create a carnival-like atmosphere.
Ticket windows for tourists at the Taj Mahal will be closed at 10.30 am. Tourists have been advised to visit the Taj early in the morning.
Inside the Taj, masons, craftsmen have been busy last six days, to replace worn out red sand stones, fill up the cracks and spruce up the greenery. Beauty parlour treatment has made the white marble mausoleum dazzle with brightness. Friday night's drizzle has added to the freshness in the ambience.
The main Mall road and Fatehabad road will be closed for public in the afternoon till the end of Trump's visit. Barat ghars (wedding halls) and hotels in the area will have all kinds of problems due to restrictions on movement of vehicles, some locals complained.
Agra District Magistrate Prabhu Narain Singh has asked all government departments to complete civil work as Sunday would be used for a rehearsal.