Agra schools shut to escape heat

Agra, May 8 (IANS) With the mercury crossing 44 degrees Celsius, schools in the Taj Mahal city were shut till Class 8 by 11 a.m. Wednesday.

This followed an order by District Magistrate Zuher Bin Sagir.

Due to the searing heat, Agra’s roads are virtually deserted by noon.

“The shady trees along the roads have disappeared. The shelters at the bus stands have been encroached upon. What should a pedestrian do?” asked social activist Devashish Bhattacharya.

Tourists who haven’t done their research properly were hit hard.

“A group from the northeast had no idea how oppressive the Agra weather can be and had a tough time at the Taj,” said tourist guide Amit Sisodia.

“They just wanted to take a look and rush back to their hotel rooms.”

Normally, a tourist wants to spend several hours at the Taj Mahal. “The sales of handicrafts has fallen, and hotel owners are unhappy with tourist arrivals,” added Sisodia.

Demand for bottled water and cold drinks has soared at all monuments.

“The ASI could consider putting up temporary tented shelters inside the monuments,” suggested another tourist guide, Ved Gautam.

Some steps have been taken.

Said Munnazar Ali, caretaker of the Taj Mahal: “We have provided green carpets for people to walk on. The pressure of tourists is high in the morning and after 3 p.m. But walking down from the Shilpgram parking complex or from the Western Gate parking slot is really tough, though battery operated buses are available.”

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