Agra, July 24 (IANS) Union Minister of State for Tourism with independent charge K. Chiranjeevi Wednesday inaugurated the long-awaited Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC)-sponsored 'Clean Taj Mahal' campaign, close to the monument.
The ONGC has been allowed to adopt five more monuments, besides the 17th century monument to love, the Taj Mahal. The other monuments the ONGC has adopted are Ellora and Elephanta Caves in Maharashtra, Red Fort in Delhi, Golkonda Fort near Hyderabad, and Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu.
The Clean India campaign is part of the central government's strategy under the 12th Five Year Plan to improve the quality of services and the surroundings of tourist destinations across India.
The minister appealed to the citizens of Agra to cooperate in keeping clean the city of the Taj, which receives a large number of foreign and domestic tourists.
Chiranjeevi arrived in Agra from Delhi by a decorated bus, taking the Yamuna Expressway. He stopped at the Shilpgram complex before visiting the Taj Mahal with officials of the ONGC, the Archeological Survey of India and Uttar Pradesh Tourism.
A delegation representing the local tourism industry met the minister to present a memorandum of demands.
Senior industry leader Rajiv Tiwari told IANS: "The minister was positive. He wanted a night bazaar started. ONGC has indicated it may put up a water treatment plant to process underground water, which is saline. Once this happens, the fountains in the Taj may be started. The minister also indicated that an international flight may soon touch Agra."
The ONGC will take up cleaning of the Taj Mahal and areas around the monument, district officials said.