"Most roads in Agra are out of shape and virtually non-usable. The three entrances to the city from Mathura road, Gwalior road and Jaipur road are in poor condition," laments Colonel (retd) Rajesh Chauhan.
He adds, "The roads in various colonies have potholes bigger than the craters on Mars." He has launched a group 'Better and Safer Agra' to put pressure on government agencies to set things right.
The tourist area extending from the Kheria airport to Shilpgram that falls under the Agra Cantonment Board, however, is well managed.
"They are re-laying the roads and beautifying the area, dotted with half-a-dozen five-star hotels and scores of smaller ones," says activist Shravan Kumar Singh. "It's like rubbing salt on our wounds," he added.
Several organisations have been meeting the Agra Municipal Corporation and Agra Development Authority officials for immediate work on roads.
The Agra branch of the National Chamber of Industries and Commerce has begun a post-card war. Chamber president Manish Agarwal said: "Thousands of post cards will be sent to the chief minister in the next few days to draw his attention to the sad state of civic amenities and roads in Agra."
Activist Anand Rai said, "We have sent so many letters and issued statements in the press but there is no response. I wonder what they are waiting for, maybe some major disaster will wake them up."
Another activist, Sudershan Dua said: "The whole stretch from New Agra police station to Dayalbagh Radhasoami temple is in a shambles... Old people cannot walk. The municipal corporation does not have a full-time commissioner. The babus are busy about 2014 (Lok Sabha polls) and how to make fast money without doing any work."
Human rights activist Naresh Paras said the Agra Development Authority, which mints money from the historical monuments, is least bothered about tourist inconvenience.
A visitor to Agra would find garbage dumps everywhere with mosquitoes and flies swarming. "Even in posh colonies, there have been cases of dengue as gutters are not cleaned and sewers are choked," said activist Padmini.
K.P. Tripathi, acting municipal commissioner, told IANS: "We have started cleaning up the mess. Roads are being repaired and heaps of rubbish that had piled up after the rains are being removed. It takes a little time, but things will soon be in order."
--IANS (Posted on 10-09-2013)