AGRA: The choked roads of city of Taj Mahal are getting a facelift, thanks to the month-long anti-encroachment drive that has cleared illegal structures which obstructed traffic and hampered cleanliness efforts in many areas.
Due to the "success" of the campaign, which has covered a large part of the old city in Agra and will continue till September-end, authorities in holy cities of Mathura and Vrindavan are also planning to replicate it. Though there have been protests by shop keepers and various market associations, residents of old city here have by and large welcomed the initiative by district authorities supported by Agra Municipal Corporation.
"So far we have demolished more than a thousand illegal structures," Agra Municipal Corporation environment officer Rajiv Rathi said, adding "the campaign will continue till September-end". The Taj Ganj area has been cleared from Purani Mandi to Shilpgram. The heart of the city from Jama Masjid to Phulatti has also been freed of congestion from such illegal structures.
City magistrate Rekha S Chauhan said the anti-encroachment drive shall continue without "fear or favour". "Most people are cooperating and helping the campaign pick up momentum," she said. Municipal officials said the number of encroachments demolished so far runs into thousands -- small and big.
The old maps of the city are being used to nail the encroachers. Large tracts of government land or "nazul" properties have been freed from the possession of illegal encroachers, they said. The traders' associations in Johri Bazar and Jama Masjid areas were protesting over the past few days against demolitions, but now they too have agreed to cooperate, an official said.