Taj Mahal to be adopted under Clean India campaign

Agra/New Delhi: The Taj Mahal, a Unesco World Heritage site, will be adopted under the Clean India Campaign, the tourism ministry and Agra officials said Tuesday.

The Taj Mahal will be adopted by Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) at a function attended by Tourism Minister K. Chiranjeevi who will arrive in Agra from Delhi in a decorated bus Wednesday.

"It is the crown jewel among the tourist destinations in India and naturally is a priority destination under the campaign Clean India programme," the ministry said.

Agra district authorities said the minister will first visit the Taj Mahal with officials of the ministry and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) director general and then inaugurate the Clean India campaign from the Taj Khema Hotel with the Taj Mahal in the backdrop.

The ONGC has taken the responsibility to clean up the area within and outside the 17th century marble mausoleum.

District Magistrate Zuher Bin Sagir said: "It`s a very important programme for us and we have made elaborate preparations. Agra deserves higher standards of cleanliness."

Agra Municipal Commissioner D.K. Singh said at present the ASI looks after cleanliness inside the Taj Mahal complex and the roads leading to the monument are maintained by the Agra Development Authority.

He said the Taj Ganj neighbourhood close to the monument and the lanes and streets around the monument are maintained by the municipal corporation.

At the initiative of the tourism ministry, the ASI has agreed to the proposal of ONGC for adopting five more monuments under the Clean India campaign.

The monuments, besides the Taj, are Ellora & Elephanta Caves in Maharashtra, the Red Fort in Delhi, Golkonda Fort near Hyderabad, and Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu.

The Clean India campaign is part of the central government`s strategy for 12th Five Year Plan for improving the quality of services and environ in and around tourist destinations across India.

"The campaign is aimed at undertaking both sensitisation and action at field level on bringing tourism destinations and their surroundings to an expectable level of cleanliness and hygiene," it said.

The campaign is being implemented with the involvement of private and public sector stakeholders.