Agra: Even as hundreds of workers of the UP Metro Rail Corporation are working day and night to ensure the completion of the prestigious 29.6 km long two-phased Taj City Metro project much before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, citizens of Agra are on a warpath demanding change in the original plan of the track.
An official said that trials on the priority sector -- Fatehabad Road -- have already begun, the tunneling work from Shah Jahan Garden to Jama Masjid is in full swing, and a survey for the overground, elevated track on MG Road has been completed.
In the midst of this, shop keepers, emporium owners, hoteliers, educational institutions and other interest groups have now joined hands to demand that the stretch from Pratab Pura crossing to Bhagwan Talkies crossing on the MG Road, roughly a 6 km stretch, should have an underground track.
They are opposing over the ground track, as they fear there would be large-scale disruption of traffic and commercial activities, and the elevated track would create also visual pollution.
Shishir Bhagat, who is leading the protesters at the Yamuna Arti Sthal, said that lakhs of people would be put to avoidable inconvenience, disrupting their daily routine besides causing loss of time.
"MG Road is the lifeline of the city. All major hospitals, educational institutions and government offices are located on this road. The road is not wide enough and sees traffic jams almost daily. Once digging starts and obstructions are put for raising foundations for pillars, there would be massive chaos," Bhagat told IANS.
Another protester, Sachin Goyal, said, "We have met ministers in Delhi and officials in Lucknow to put forth our point of view. A review is most likely to be carried out soon."
The protesters said they would not allow life to be paralysed because of the Metro project.
"An underground Metro line is not only feasible, but desirable in the city though it may lead to escalation of costs. But the long-term benefits are more and should not be overlooked," said Rajiv Gupta of Lok Swar, an NGO.
The work on the MG Road stretch is about to begin, coinciding with the start of the tourist season from September 27 (World Tourism Day).
Civil Society President Anil Sharma said, "Representatives of the struggle committee and the Metro officials should meet and sort out the problems. Traffic movement on this vital stretch of the city has to remain smooth and seamless. For this, encroachments should be removed and the road be widened to allow free movement."