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Jagmohan to unveil Rs 150 crore plan for Taj Mahal

Ehtashamuddin Khan in New Delhi | June 22, 2003 00:31 IST

Union Tourism and Culture Minister Jagmohan will announce a Rs 150 crore package for the renovation and preservation of the Taj Mahal in Agra, during his visit to Agra on Sunday, a ministry official said on Saturday.

Jagmohan plans for visiting Agra comes after he wrote a strong letter to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, ordering her to stop the construction of the grand corridor behind the Taj or face the consequences of violation of law.

Mayawati had cleared plans for the corridor that includes a shopping mall behind the Taj, for which a part of the Yamuna riverbed was to be filled up.

Jagmohan now wants the area around Taj Mahal to be cleared of all illegal constructions, and create a tourist-friendly ambience.

The Central government and the Taj Group of Hotels will jointly fund the project, the ministry official said. "The Taj group will pay Rs 14 crore and the rest will be funded by us," he said.

Both had signed a memorandum-of-understanding two years ago, but it could not be implemented so far, he added. "Now we don't want to delay the process."

"The walls of the Taj are full of beautiful carvings and designs. These carvings were once filled with priceless gems and stones. We will refill these carvings and make it look the way exactly it was during the Mughal period," the official said.

Built by 17th Century Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the white colored Taj Mahal or Crown Palace made of marble is known worldwide, and is the main tourist attraction in India.

The mighty marble tomb stands at the end of gardens designed in the style reminiscent of the Mughal, Arabic and Persian architect. Dissected into four quadrants by waterways, they evoke the Islamic image of the Gardens of Paradise.

But the Uttar Pradesh government planned to make a modern corridor linking the Taj, Agra Fort, Etmad-ud-Daula and Chini-ka-Roza monuments to attract more tourists. This, according to experts, was illegal because no construction could be done close to protected monuments.

A nexus of politicians and builders are alleged to be involved in the construction of this 'illegal' corridor that got clearance in 1996, sources said.

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