Agra, Jan 11 (IANS) Dragging power cuts, erratic water supply, garbage at street corners, potholed roads and rising crime graph. But Agra is all set to host a three-day global summit for investors.
As one enters the Taj city from any direction, a nauseating stink hits visitors, particularly in the mornings when people defecate by the side of roads or along railway tracks.
At the public hand pumps, there are endless queues. Half the city has remained without water for several days.
The private discom Torrent is flooded with complaints but there is no respite from the unprecedented power outages.
On Thursday, Agra was without power from more than 12 hours. "The situation is no better today," moaned Sudheir Gupta, a resident of Vijay Nagar.
Agra officials are a worried lot. The city has to be dressed up for the international summit in record time.
Government agencies are working overtime to cover up the ugly eyesores to woo global investors to Uttar Pradesh from Jan 27.
District Magistrate Ajay Chauhan ordered removal of hoardings from the Yamuna Kinara Road that connects the venue of the summit, Jaypee Hotel, on Fatehabad Road with the Yamuna Expressway.
The road from the Kheria airport to the venue is being spruced up with firm orders to demolish all roadside encroachment.
Social activist Shravan Kumar feels there should be permanent plans to give Agra, around 200 km south of Delhi, a major facelift and streamline civic amenities.
Added Anand Rai, another activist: "They (authorities) are concerned about the comforts of the VVIPs but no one seems bothered about the problems of the aam aadmi."
Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society, told IANS that from Republic Day (Jan 26) till February-end, Agra will receive a large number of VIPs.
There will be a global business summit, a medical conference, a national education conference, a Taj Literature Festival and a 10-day Taj Mahotsava that every year attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists.
"This is peak tourist season. Why can't the authorities do something on a permanent basis to upgrade facilities?"
Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is likely to stay in Agra for three days to interact with industry bigwigs and foreign dignitaries.
Uttar Pradesh Tourism Director General Manoj Singh is stationed in Agra to supervise arrangements and finalise cultural programmes.
Workshops on Indian culture have been planned. Stalls are being put up at the venue of investors' meet where visitors would have a glimpse of India.
Local business houses will decorate the main road junctions. Entrepreneurs will display Agra's own products.
Agra's tourism industry is at the moment upbeat with increasing footfalls this year. The hotels are full, says Rakesh Chauhan, president of the Agra Hotels and Restaurants Association.