Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath today once again sought to set aside the controversy over the 17th century mausoleum Taj Mahal, saying the ‘World Heritage site was built by blood and sweat of Indian labourers and the onus of its security and preservation lies on our shoulders’.
Addressing a public rally here, the CM noted that everyday 40,000-50,000 tourists come to Agra and said that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure their safety and security.
“If we can provide them adequate security, the number will rise to 2.5 lakh - 3 lakh,” he said.
The CM further said that one should not indulge into the controversy why and when Taj Mahal was built. “It (Taj Mahal) was built by Indian labourers.”
Adityanath said his government was committed to conserve the rich cultural and historical identity of Agra.
Earlier in the day, he had inaugurated the tourist walkway from Agra Fort and went to the western side of the Taj Mahal for a cleanliness campaign. He also inspect the spot proposed for a rubber check dam on the Yamuna.
“If the court allows us, work on rubber check dam will begin soon,” he said.
Adityanath said that an international airport will come up in Agra. “Rs 65 crore has been sanctioned. The airport will be names after Deen Dayal Upadhyay. The work of airport will begin soon.”
Slamming opposition leaders who questioned the timing of his visit, the CM said, “When we visit Kashi, Chitrakoot… they are hurt. Only those people are raising questions over my Agra visit who have divided the society on the basis of castes.”
He also lambasted erstwhile governments over poor law and order situation in the state.
“Our policies are not for people belonging to any specific religion or caste, we are focusing on 22 crore people of the state,” he said.
Adityanath is the first BJP Chief Minister in the state to visit Taj Mahal. His visit comes in the backdrop of controversy triggered by BJP MLA Sangeet Som who had said that the ‘monument was built by traitors and that it is a blot on Indian culture’.
In the morning, Adityanath wielded a broom to clean an area outside the Taj Mahal. Like any other tourist, he, accompanied by Deputy CM Dinesh Sharma, Tourism Minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi and cabinet Minister SP Singh Baghel, walked to the main mausoleum to look at the tombs of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Jehan, in whose memory the 17th century marble monument was built.
Adityanath went to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) office inside the Taj Mahal campus and watched a slide show about the historical and cultural details of the monuments in Agra and the steps taken to conserve them. He also went to the Yamuna side of the monument and spoke to officials about the river, its cleanliness and the proposed beautification of the area.
The Chief Minister laid the foundation stone for a World Bank-aided pro-poor tourism development project at the Taj Mahal, under which the Shah Jahan park would be rejuvenated and a walking track is to be developed between Agra Fort and Taj Mahal.