Lack of infrastructure and civic amenities are deterring tourists from visiting several significant historical monuments in Agra, the city immortalised by the Taj Mahal, say a group of local industry leaders.
Though the number of tourists at the historical monuments in Agra show an encouraging trend, hoteliers and travel agents complain of pathetic lack of civic amenities.
"Tourists generally avoid visiting other monuments in the city after a 'darshan' (seeing) of the Taj Mahal, because they are too scared of bumpy roads," tourist guide Ved Gautam said.
An estimated 35,000 tourists visited the Taj on Saturday, said data on the ASI website.
While Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has directed the district administration to complete patch work and road repairs within a fortnight, the Agra Municipal Corporation, is still dragging its feet.
"To an outsider, Agra appears, as if it's ravaged by a war since most roads have developed potholes and cracks after the monsoon rains. The continuous digging by one government department or the other not only raises a lot of dust but makes mobility difficult," a local resident said.
"The city administration is yet to wake up to repair and clean up the roads in the city which have not only become a safety hazard but also assault the aesthetics," complains hotelier Surendra Sharma.
A new tourist season has begun, and the number of vehicles bringing in tourists via the Yamuna Expressway or the Agra-Lucknow Expressway, have gone up appreciably due to the long holiday interval.
The local tourism industry is alarmed at the lack of concern and general apathy towards streamlining vital civic amenities.
"When tourists, particularly those from the developed world, arrive in Agra, they are aghast at the dismal conditions. This results in short visits, same-day return by most visitors," says president of the Agra Hotels and Restaurants Association, Rakesh Chauhan.
The rains have exposed the claims of the city administration of having patched up or filled all potholes and completed repair work on most roads.
The municipal corporation commissioner Arun Prakash says filling of potholes is continuing. Mayor Navin Jain has assured citizens that prompt remedial measures would be taken to ensure safe mobility. Even during the festival season, nothing was being done. Many stretches still require patchwork treatment to avoid accidents," said Pandit Jugal Kishor.
The city police has failed to demolish encroachments around monuments.
"All they do is to send notices. For want of police force, no action to evict illegal occupants is possible. You also need political will," Goswami Nandan Shrotriya of Yamuna Kinara Road said.
The city appears in shambles, with heaps of garbage dumped along railway tracks, the dry Yamuna river bed and pollution, but the official agencies entrusted with the task of transforming Agra into a smart city dry continue to show no urgency .