Lucknow: Ahead of US President Donald Trump and his family’s two-day India visit from Monday onward, his scheduled stopover in Agra has spurred a makeover of sorts.
The preparation to give a face-lift to the Mughal period city is on at a war footing. Streets and walls are getting a fresh coat of paint --“Radhe Radhe” is being painted at many places.
Fountains inside the Taj complex are being cleaned and a mud pack has been applied to a portion for shining.
Over 500 cusecs of water has been released into the Yamuna this week, one of country's major rivers which flows behind the Taj Mahal and had been reduced to a nullah of sludge and sewage over the years. The river now looks like a healthy free flowing river, perfect for a photo-op.District magistrate of Agra Prabhu Narayan Singh told media persons Saturday, “We have been informed about Mr Trump’s trip on 15 February only. Our target to finish all infrastructure work is 22 February. The work is still on though. The State government has sent 3,000 artists to paint the city. Other 300 artists are working at the airport.”
A team of security officials from the United States visited the iconic Taj Mahal earlier this week. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also went to Agra on the same day to review arrangements.Yogi is supposed to accompany the Trump family during this visit.
Taj closed for others, 7 US choppers and 80 telescopes to eye Agra
According to officials in Agra, Donald Trump, first lady Melania and Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared are scheduled to visit Agra after 4 pm on February 24. The Taj Mahal will be closed for tourists from 12 noon onward that day."Due to security reasons, the monument will be closed for public from 12 noon on 24 Feb," Vasant Kumar Swarnkar, Superintendent Agra Division, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) said.In addition, three petrol pumps that fall within Trump's route have been asked to dispose of the fuel in stock before his arrival.
All the houses, shops, restaurants and hotels on the main route have been identified and the verification process is about to finish, Superintendent of Police (City) Botre Rohan Pramod said.
Shops outside the Taj Mahal complex have been asked to stick to uniform signboards.Over 400 security personnel from the United States have already arrived in Agra and are enjoying the courtesy of district administration. Besides, seven US helicopters will keep a tab on security from the sky.
Besides, 10,000 police personnel and few companies of para military forces will be deployed across Trump’s route. Over 80 telescopes and night vision devices have been brought from Lucknow to keep a watch from the top of several buildings between airport and Taj Mahal.
Not personal Limo, an electric bus to carry Trump
Trump's personal limousine 'the Beast' will not be permitted into the Taj Mahal's 500-metre buffer where polluting vehicles are banned as per a Supreme Court order. The only option for Trump is to ride a special battery bus that the authority has customised for VVIPs.
Agra District Magistrate Prabhu N Singh said the Secret Service has been informed that Trump can only ride into the Taj Mahal on a special battery bus.Earlier, the bus had ferried French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British royal couple Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Meanwhile, the entire floor -- with the honeymoon suit for the Trump couple -- and several VIP suites have been booked at the plush Ram Vilas Hotel. They will be served Indian and American food for which top chefs have been roped in.
Amid tight measures to make the stay smooth, officials are worried about the monkey menace. Troupes of moneys attacking tourists is quite common at Taj Mahal. Special animal rescue guards are being called to keep the animals away from the venue, officials say.