Locals hope work to make Agra smart, beautiful won't halt post Trump visit

A day ahead of the visit, workers were giving spray-paint job to electrical wiring boxes along the route and broken walls were being fixed and painted afresh. Photo: PTI

The Chaturvedi family of Agra huddled near a barricade in Taj Nagari to catch a glimpse of the convoy of US President Donald Trump on Monday, the patchy condition of the street on their side stood in stark contrast to the refurbished road on the other side.

Trump briefly visited Agra last evening to see Taj Mahal, accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner and his delegation.

Ahead of his visit, the city administration had given the city a "major makeover", especially along the route to be used by Trump's convoy.

"Look at this patchy street on the side where the common man is standing, and the VVIP zone across the barricade where flags and flowers have been used to decorate the streets to welcome the visiting head of state. The contrasting pictures tell the whole story," said Ashok Kumar Chaturvedi, who lives in Taj Nagari.

He came along with his wife, son and daughter to see the convoy of the US President, but was tad disappointed as police personnel did not allow public to stand near the barricade and asked them to move further back.

"Agra has been spruced, walls cleaned of illegal advertisements, new heritage-design lampposts installed on main roads, uniform signage for shops in many areas. All for Trump! But will the city be kept smart, clean and beautiful even after he is gone," Chaturvedi asked.

In Tajganj area that neighbours the iconic Taj Mahal complex, tourists earlier would be greeted with garbage dumps and illegal cables and unkempt pavements, but all of that has changed in the last few weeks.

 

"The city has been transformed overnight, with a speed it has never seen before. Elections come and go, but things don't move, a US President decides to come to Agra and authorities work in full swing. Trump should again visit Agra maybe that's how our city will remain maintained," said Mohit Kumar, who works in a hotel in Tajganj.

A day ahead of the visit, workers were giving spray-paint job to electrical wiring boxes along the route and broken walls were being fixed and painted afresh.

The city administration had made massive arrangement for Trump's short visit in Agra on Monday evening, giving Agra a makeover in a very short span of time, seeking to present the "best face of Agra" to him.

Streets were spruced up, walls beautified with thematic paintings and the lawns of the iconic Taj Mahal bedecked with shimmering flowers for welcoming the US President.

At many places, artworks greeting Trump were made by artists and water was being sprayed regularly to ensure there was no dust.

Victorian-style lampposts were installed in many areas to improve the aesthetic look of the city, especially along the nearly 13-km route that was taken by the US President's convoy.

Agra District Magistrate Prabhu N Singh said the work started in preparations for the US President's visit "will continue".

"Agra is a part of the Smart City project and during the last few weeks, we expedited many schemes under it, from street lighting to wall beautification and uniform shop signage to pavement refurbishing, and it will continue. It was not just for President's visit, we want our city to look clean and beautiful all the time," he told PTI.

Many youths of Agra are happy that the city has been beautified, but questioned the "selective way" in which only the area along the convoy route largely was being given a facelift.

"Go and see other areas, you will see the difference. City administration and local body worked in full swing in the last few days. It means we Indians can do it but apathy and corruption stops our cities from having a good urban quality. And people should also respect their city and help keep it clean," said Suryansh Chaturvedi, a class nine student.

He incidentally wrote his school exam in the morning and came in the evening to catch a glimpse of the 'Beast', the official luxurious limousine of the US President but was a tad disappointed to not see it.

District authorities later said the armoured luxury car of the US President was "not part of the convoy" in Agra.

Guide Abdul Khan, however, also gushed about Trump's visit, saying it will "boost the stature of Agra and further boost tourism".

Satyendar Shukla, an auto-rickshaw driver said, "It is good that the city has been cleaned and beautified, but the administration and people should keep it like this regularly, not just for a VVIP visit."

"Agra should be smart and beautiful for us also, not just for foreign guests," he said.



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