Akhilesh promises a new Agra
Agra: After a series of interactive sessions, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has given his nod for a slew of projects that will change the profile of the Taj city.
The young chief minister has met businessmen, officials, Samajwadi Party leaders and social activists from Agra over the past fortnight.
"Early July, after the municipal elections, we will start seeing action on some of the long pending projects," Samajwadi Party leader Ramji Lal Suman said.
A delegation of social activists headed by homeopath R S Pareek met Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow to present a memorandum of demands that need to be taken up on a priority basis.
Tourism industry leader Rajiv Tiwari said that there was "appreciation of our demands" and "we expect concrete steps very soon".
The chief minister promised to consider reducing VAT on turbine fuel to make it attractive for airlines to introduce flights to Agra.
Also, excise duty on marble in lay work would be reduced to promote this rare skill and craft.
He also promised to look into the feasibility aspect of drawing water from the Chambal river.
Already work is in progress on a Gangajal project to solve the chronic water shortage in Agra.
Delegation members said the chief minister assured them that VAT would be reduced from present 10 to 5 percent on products made by iron foundries in Agra.
He has already cleared a project to streamline and upgrade facilities at the Shah Jahan garden. The canal system has to be revived and those who have encroached on land evicted.
While facilities at the existing Kheria airport will be streamlined, the new international airport to come up in Mathura will be named after Agra, the chief minister indicated.
Sportsperson and industrialist Harvijay Bahia said, "I separately handed a note ... demanding urgent attention to the river-front development and measures to restore glory and health to the dying Yamuna."
People who have interacted with the chief minister are positive that some major initiatives would soon be taken to change the Taj city's negative profile.
Agra, about 200 km south of New Delhi, is home to the Taj Mahal and is India's biggest tourist draw. But the city suffers from several problems, including poor infrastructure.