Agra, Feb 24: Tourism and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials in Agra were caught unawares when Union Minister of Tourism Dr Mahesh Sharma paid a surprise visit to the Taj Mahal today to review facilities for tourists and the ticketing arrangements.
The Minister visited the controversial Taj Heritage Corridor sandwiched between the Taj and the Fort. Over years, the 20 hectare corridor has remained neglected and a source of visual pollution.
Sharma asked officials to take appropriate steps to "green up" the entire area and also stressed on the need for desilting the river bed and dredging out garbage piled up. Sharma interacted with tourists at the ticket windows. He was dissatisfied with the facilities for the tourists. Tourism industry leaders and the local MP Ram Shankar Katheria, Minister of State for HRD were with the minister and apprised him of long pending issues that had stunted tourism growth.