Agra gets makeover for Donald Trump visit

Jignasa Sinha
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Security personnel keep vigil at Taj Mahal on Sunday. (Express photo by Praveen Khanna)

Its markets full of hoardings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Donald Trump and his wife Melania, and its walls painted brown to blend with the red sandstone monuments, Agra is all set to welcome its high-profile guests on Monday.

“We were informed about Trump’s visit on February 14. We have reconstructed footpaths, cleaned sewers, decorated junctions with flowers and installed tricolour LED lights on electric poles,” said District Magistrate Prabhu N Singh.

Trump will arrive in Agra at 4.45 pm on Monday and visit Taj Mahal before leaving for Delhi. He will be welcomed by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Governor Anandiben Patel.

An official at Agra Municipal Corporation said, “To make everything look uniform, we decided to paint the walls near the streets brown. Agra is known for red sandstone structures and reddish-brown soil and we want to show this to our guests. The shops have been painted with cream colour and the boards, footpath and walls brown.”

Taj Mahal to remain closed for tourists during Trump's visit

He will be welcomed by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Governor Anandiben Patel. (File)

Singh said 20 golf cars have been prepared for the transport of Trump’s convoy from Oberoi Hotel to Taj Mahal’s forecourt. Over 3,000 artists from different parts of the country will perform for Trump and stages have been set up at 21 points on the route from the airport to the hotel.

Read | Donald Trump in India: Here is the full schedule

Most markets will be closed till Monday night. Dinesh (35), who runs a departmental store near the airport, said, “Three days ago, municipality workers came and told us that they will repair the streets and the market. We were happy because we didn’t have to pay. They constructed stairs near my shop, painted the walls inside and gave a new brown board. I don’t know who Trump is but I like him because my shop looks new.”

The UP police, which is working with US Secret Service on a three-layer security arrangement, has been holding drills for a week. SP City Rohan P Botre said, “Over 3,000 personnel have been deployed on the streets and at Taj Mahal. We have 10 companies of paramilitary forces and a few companies from Delhi.”

DM Singh said that besides security arrangements, they have also double-checked medical arrangements. “Trump will be accompanied by a doctor but we have also alerted SN Medical College and Pushpanjali Hospital. Ambulances with life-support system will be ready.”

Meanwhile, a few shopowners alleged that their shops were forcibly shut down. Arif Khan, who owned a fruit-juice shop, said, “My shop was in front of the monument. We were told that our shops must be cleared to make a passage for people. But our shops aren’t near the road, we tried to reason with them but they told us to remove our things. I set up the shop with my savings in January. I had permission. Now I have lost everything.”

Asked about this, DM Singh said, “Their shops were encroaching upon the area for a free passage.”