UP slams politics of religion over Taj Mahal

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New Delhi: The UP government denied that there was a deliberate omission of the Taj Mahal from a booklet on tourism projects, asserting that the publication was not a compendium of tourist attractions and projects were being taken up to develop India’s star attraction.
UP Tourism Minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi told TOI that there was no question of ignoring the Taj Mahal as it was one of India’s biggest attractions while Avneesh Awasthi, director general of UP tourism, said the booklet referred to pro-poor tourism under which three projects near the Taj, including one for a visitor’s centre and improved parking, were being taken up.
The state government issued a media release stating that with the help of World Bank, projects worth Rs 156 crore were being taken up for development of the ‘Taj Mahal and Taj Mahal region’.
Awasthi told TOI, “This was not a compendium of tourist attractions in UP, merely a book to highlight the works done by the incumbent government and projects it plans to take up.”
Joshi said, “How can anyone in the tourism sector ignore the Taj Mahal, one of the biggest tourist attractions in the country? Can missing a picture or a mention in any brochure mean we are ignoring the Taj?”
She said industry experts had suggested that destinations in Uttar Pradesh were apt for religious and spiritual tourism. “Seeing everything in the light of religion and playing politics over it is not right. Those playing politics over this must know that people go to Mecca for Haj. Even Vatican thrives on religious tourism,” she said.
Awasthi said projects near the Taj were part of “propoor tourism” funded by the World Bank. These projects were, however, not mentioned in the booklet. The projects near the Taj include revitalization of Kacchpura and Mehtab Bagh area, revitalization of Shahjahan Park and walkway between Taj Mahal and Agra Fort and construction of visitor’s centre and parking rehabilitation at Taj Mahal’s west gate.
At the Centre, the tourism ministry on World Tourism Day launched the Incredible India Campaign 2.0 with liberal references, in pictures and videos, to the Taj Mahal. The redesigned Incredible India website also features the Taj Mahal prominently.

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