15 December 2019
Agra: With the Supreme Court lifting temporary moratorium on construction projects, in the Taj Trapezium Zone, the development work is likely to begin on a slew of projects that could change the profile of Agra, the star tourist destination of India.
The apex court has cleared construction of a terminal building at the Kheria airport. However, restrictions on the number of flights would continue till a detailed study of the likely air pollution-load is carried out by a competent authority.
Movement of passengers to the Kheria airport has been a major obstacle to air connectivity, as the air strip being used is within the air force base, and prior security checks and permissions have to be sought for those wanting to fly.
"This would all change as a new terminal building coming up will have independent passage through civil area," KC Jain, Secretary of the Agra Development Foundation, which has filed a petition in the court, said.
The Supreme Court had imposed restrictions and a moratorium on industrial expansion and construction of new projects in different categories, to ensure safe environment for historical buildings including the Taj Mahal.
The Uttar Pradesh state government officials in Agra said that decks were now clear for major projects including a barrage on Yamuna, downstream of the Taj Mahal.
River Connect Campaign member Devashish Bhattacharya said, "twice the foundation-stone of the barrage had been laid and promises made umpteen times of constructing a barrage that would help restore ecological balance and provide a safe cushion for the Taj Mahal. But nothing much happened. We hope the Yogi government would soon begin work on the barrage project at Nagla Prema, a few kilometres down-stream of the Taj Mahal."
The development work is also likely to begin soon on the 30 km-long two corridors of the Metro rail project that would be completed before 2024. To address the local transport needs of the city, the state government has released 100 electric buses, which should start plying in January.
The second phase of the 140 km-long Gangajal pipeline project will become operational in January, according to UP Jal Nigam officials. At present, half the city is receiving Ganga Jal from the two water works at Sikandra.
The remaining half would be covered by the Jeoni Mandi Water Works which will be connected to the Gangajal pipeline within a month.
The officials of the Agra Municipal Corporation claim there has been a significant improvement in the garbage and waste disposal mechanism. The corporation has engaged a Chennai based company to manage treatment plants and tap drains opening into the river Yamuna. This agreement is for ten years, initially.
To promote tourism and night stay in the city, the district administration has begun developing the Mehtab Bagh area, at the rear of the Taj Mahal, across the river. Vantage locations are being developed for night viewing of the Taj Mahal and for holding events with the Taj in the background.
On the health front, the municipal corporation is developing ten Mohalla clinics on Delhi lines. At the corporation headquarters, a huge health clinic has been developed to cater to thousands of needy locals.
Agra Mayor Navin Jain has set in motion a number of projects intended to transform Agra into a smart city.