New Delhi: Apart from hiking the entry fee to Taj Mahal from Rs 40 to Rs 50, the Union government is all set to introduce a special ticket of Rs 200 starting April 1, for those who wish to enter the main mausoleum.
Union Minister of Culture Mahesh Sharma observed on Tuesday that not all those who visit the Taj Mahal are interested in entering the mausoleum. Also, the move would not only help generate more revenue, but also protect the fabric of the 17th century wonder.
Addressing the media weeks after the Union Budget presentation, Sharma said, “It has been observed that not all tourists want to go inside the mausoleum. Those who are interested will have to buy the special ticket for Rs 200. The idea for this ticket is not to make money but to ensure the protection of the building’s fabric and better crowd management.”
"We need to preserve the Taj Mahal for the generations to come. New 'barcoded' tickets would cost Rs 50 instead of the earlier Rs 40 and it would be valid only for three hours," said Sharma.
The decision has been taken keeping in mind recommendations of the NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute) report, which had conducted a study on Taj's load-bearing capacity, had recommended immediate steps to reduce the number of footfalls into the mausoleum to protect its integrity.
The Supreme Court recently directed the Uttar Pradesh government to submit a vision document on the preservation of the monument.
Taj Mahal witnesses a mammoth footfall of 1 lakh tourists in a day and the government does want to cap the number of visitors but is favouring visitor “regulation”.
“With the regulation proposal, the government plans to limit visiting time to three hours for every visitor and if the visitor crosses that time limit he will have to pay an extra amount,” said Sharma.
In the new scheme of things, the ministry also plans to open up Shahjahan’s Mehtab Bagh for night viewing of the Taj Mahal from the opposite bank.
Apart from new ticket pricing, the government would also focus on a queue management system and installation of turnstiles at the eastern and western gates of the Taj complex.
There are also plans to introduce special facilities for high value ticket holders. Sharma said the ministry had taken special steps to ensure the comfort for foreign tourists who pay Rs 1,250 for entry into the Taj Mahal.
He said separate queues, separate toilets, and a safe corridor will be built for them from the Agra railway station to the Taj in collaboration with the Ministry of Aviation and Road Transport Ministry.
In the Budget allocation for the Ministry of Culture, there has been an increase of 3.82% in funds for 2018-19. The Ministry of Culture’s allocation for 2018-19 has been increased by Rs 104 crore to Rs 2,843 crore from last year’s Rs 2,738.47 crore. Out of the total funds, ASI has been allocated Rs 974.56 crore, which is 5.42 percent more than the 2017-18 allocation.