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Agra readies to receive Donald Trump

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The city of Taj is being spruced up to welcome U.S. President Donald Trump and wife Melania on February 24. Shops have been painted in one colour and hoardings are being cut in one format to avoid any visual discomfort to the VVIP couple. Water is being sprayed so that the dust settles. Even trees are being washed. “Even statues at the roundabouts are being given a bath,” said an elated Rajesh Kumar, who runs a grocery store near Fatehabad Road. In the Swachh Survekshan 2019 cleanliness rankings, the Agra Municipal Corporation was placed 85th nationwide.Old-timers remember that Bill Clinton was the last U.S. President to visit the Taj in 2000. Barack Obama’s visit in 2015 was cancelled at the last minute, apparently because of security concerns. This time, apprehensions are being raised about the condition of the railway bridge near the Kheria Airport that falls on the way to Taj Mahal. “As the airport is not regularly used, and foreign tourists are expected to take the train route, not much attention has been paid on its maintenance,” said a tourist guide, requesting anonymity.In fact, the Public Works Department has put up a board saying the bridge is in a weak condition and that heavy vehicles are not allowed. Allaying the fears, Superintendent of Police (City) Botre Rohan Pramod said, “It is not a cause of worry. It was used during the recent visit by the Brazilian President.”Divisional Commissioner Anil Kumar told reporters on Monday that the PWD and the (U.P. State) Bridge Corporation have been told to do a check-up.Massive police presencePolice sources said besides 4,000 constables, 10 Superintendents of Police, 18 Additional Superintendents of Police, 75 Deputy Superintendents of Police, 200 inspectors, 350 sub-inspectors and 16 companies of Central Armed Police Forces would be pressed into the security of arguably the most powerful man on earth.“We are checking every house that falls on the route. The hotels have been asked to submit details of those staying with them to the local intelligence unit. Snipers will be placed on rooftops along the route,” said Mr. Pramod.Concerns have also been raised about the hotels which are working without proper permission from the authorities. “We are keeping a check on them as well,” assured the official.The increasing number of monkeys in the monument is also a concern.Interestingly, Mr. Trump is coming at a time when the Taj Mahotsav is on, with hundreds of artisans in the city. Mr. Kumar said the administration has taken note of it. He said “the visit will end by 7.30 p.m.”, the time when the stage shows of the Mahotsav begin.A four-member advance team of the U.S. Embassy visited Agra on Monday.

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