The Mayor of Agra, Naveen Jain, has sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ministry of culture to remove the restriction of 5,000 visitors per day. The footfall at the Taj Mahal, on Thursday, touched the cap of 5,000 for the first time ever since its reopening in September, after the lockdown.
To mark the beginning of the World Heritage Week, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had decided to give visitors free access to protected monuments across Agra on Thursday.
Naveen Jain, who is also the president of the All India Council of Mayors (AICM), said, “All types of businesses, industries, trains, buses have started operating after the Covid-19 lockdown but restriction on entry of visitors to the Taj Mahal continues. This is adversely affecting the tourism industry and local economy of Agra. Over 3.5 lakh people in Agra depend on revenue generated from tourism.”
He said that black-marketing of tickets at the Taj Mahal is causing revenue loss to the tourism industry and local economy. The Mayor demanded that the offline ticketing process should be restarted without any further delay.
He said, “Agra falls in the eco-sensitive Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ). Following environmental restrictions, there are very limited avenues for industries and businesses to operate. People are forced to leave the city to earn money. The cap of 5,000 visitors in a day at Taj Mahal should be removed. The online ticketing process is causing rampant black marketing of the tickets at the monument. The offline facility should be started soon.”
Meanwhile, on Thursday, the number of tourists who visited the Taj Mahal was 5,800, including 800 children. There are no tickets for children up to 15 years. The footfall at the Agra Fort also touched the cap of 2,500 on Thursday.
The average daily footfall at the Taj and Agra Fort used to be around 25,000 and 15,000 respectively, in pre-Covid days.
Meanwhile, Superintending archaeologist, ASI (Agra circle), Vasant Swarnkar said that all Covid-19 protocols were being followed as per the health ministry’s guidelines.
The two monuments had reopened for public on September 21, after a gap of 188 days with a cap on entry of 5,000 and 2,500 visitors per day in two shifts.