New Delhi, March 7, 2020-
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) may have announced free entry for women visitors at its protected monuments on the occasion of International Women’s Day, but that may not help much in increasing the footfall, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
There are 174 monuments in Delhi and those which have ticket based entry have seen as much as 50 per cent decrease in footfalls ever since the coronavirus came knocking up north. Even those monuments, which are free of cost to enter, have not been attracting any visitors.
Last year in the Rajya Sabha, Culture Minister Prahlad Patel said, over 170 monuments and sites in the national capital have been declared as ‘monuments of national importance’.
These include the Qutub Minar, Muhammad Shah Sayyid tomb, Safdurjung tomb, India Gate among others.
One of the most popular, free of entry monuments for Delhiites has been the India Gate that remains choc a bloc during the weekend, particularly in this time of the year. However, last weekend it wore a relatively deserted look and the hawkers finding it tough to sell their items.
In Qutub Minar too, a minaret and “victory tower” that forms part of the Qutub complex, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Mehrauli area, saw no queues for the last one week.
People have been scared, especially, after the news about six visitors from Agra testing positive broke out. Agra is barely 230 km from the national capital. And adding to the scare is the fact that the person, who they got infected from, was living in the NCR and is under quarantine now.
Meanwhile, the ASI has said that they do not have the technology or the equipment to screen the estimated 30,000 people who visit the Taj Mahal every day. This too has sobered the footfalls in the Taj.
Moreover, the government has stalled visas from many countries affected by the virus. This has resulted in the monuments wearing a relatively deserted look.
Vice President of Tourism Guild, Agra, Rajiv Saxena, said, “The government’s decision to cancel the visas to the Italians, Koreans, Iranians and Japanese tourists is a knee jerk reaction”.
Knee jerk or not, but that certainly has forced many visitors to stay away from the monuments in Delhi.
“Tourists travelling to India on valid visas are being unnecessarily harassed despite adhering to all the prerequisite terms and conditions of the government. Instead, we should restore confidence in them that India is safe,” Saxena added.
Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus affected in India has jumped to 31.
The first coronavirus case in Delhi was detected on Monday. Six suspected cases were also detected in Agra after they came in contact with the person from Delhi found to be infected.
So far, more than 3,000 people have died across the globe due to this highly contagious virus. (Agency)