Agra: Agra citizens Sunday demanded firm and drastic action against encroachers who were blocking traffic movement and threatening the survival of historical buildings.
In a resolution, concerned citizens who met at a city hotel Sunday evening, appealed to the state government to immediately take action aganst law enforcing agencies which failed to remove encroachments from road crossings and busy markets.
The Archaeological Survey of India was asked to rid the historical monuments of trespassers and encroachers. "Some of the lesser-known buildings in the city which are of historical importance, are being dwarfed by encroachers who have built structures around them. Restrictions on new structures are already there, but the police and the local administration lack the will to control the illegal construction spree," said Shravan Kumar Singh, vice president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.
Shishir Gupta, president of the "Wake Up, Agra" group said: "We have to sensitise the citizens, shift hawkers and vendors to alternative sites, and to pressure the police to implement the law."
People of Agra are really fed up with traffic jams caused by encroachers, speakers said.
Tourism leaders feel if the roads in Agra become encroachment free and allow vehicles to speed up, more tourists would then visit various other monuments apart from the Taj Mahal. "Daily traffic jams prevented vehicles of tourists from visiting monuments across the river Yamuna. The entrance points to Agra were choked and blocked traffic movement," hotelier Surendra Sharma said.
Sudershan Dua and Dr. Anand Rai said the local police had to work in a transparent manner. "The police stations must be made responsible for ensuring encroachment-free roads. The corruption in the police must come to a halt under the new dispensation," they said.
The meeting decided to hold programmes in schools to create awareness. Dr Abhinay Prasad, an activist said: "Action should start with politicians who have gobbled public land. Our community ponds have disappeared and multi-storeyed buildings have been built. The whole of Sanjay Place commercial complex is overwhelmed by encroachments."
A petition was signed and sent to the state chief minister to draw his attention to the problem of encroachments in the Taj city. Tourism was being adversely affected due to this problem, the petitioners said.