Agra, March 24: The decision to establish the national tourism university in Noida on the outskirts of the national capital has evoked a strong reaction from tourism industry leaders in this Taj city.
Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma told media persons in New Delhi on Monday that the university will come up in Noida in three months. The tourism industry leaders in Agra are of the opinion that the Taj city, with its well developed hospitality industry infrastructure and dozens of tourist attractions, has a natural and practical claim on this mega project.
According to them, Sharma has not explained that how he chose the location and what are the advantages of having the university in Noida, which does not have any connection with tourism.
Mathura MP Hema Malini told IANS over phone: "Why this national university should be located in Noida? Makes little sense to me. It should be located between Mathura and Agra, one culturally rich and the other an architectural treasure house. I will discuss with Mahesh Sharma."
Rajiv Tiwari, president of the Federation of Travel Agents of India, said: "For many years, we have been trying hard to convince the ministry to set up the national level institution in Agra but suddenly we hear that the minister has already taken the decision.
We will approach him and try to convince him that Agra is a much better location than Noida. Obviously political consideration is there, the area falling in his constituency." Hotelier Surendra Sharma, founder-president of the Agra Hotels and Restaurants Association said Agra has once again been by-passed.
"They failed to give the international airport, the High Court bench and now the claim for the national tourism university in Agra has been ignored. Wonder what our minister Katheria and the other elected representatives are doing," Sharma said.
The Agra University runs a tourism and hotel management institute which for want of resources, has not been able to make a mark. Abhinav Jain, a handicrafts exporter, said: "With such a well developed tourism industry, comprising handicrafts industry, the hotels and the travel agents, plus numerous tourist attractions, Agra should have been preferred for the national tourism university. Noida is not the place for this kind of project."
Lav Kush Mishra, director of Agra University's institute of tourism and hotel management told IANS: "It makes no sense to me to locate the tourism university in Noida. They want to site everything in or around Delhi. Agra is obviously the right place for such a prestigious institution."
"With three world heritage monuments in the city and numerous attractions including wild life sanctuaries and bird sanctuaries around, now even a crocodile sanctuary at Chambal in Bah tehsil, students have all the opportunities to learn. And when they come out of the university, they will be employed in Agra only," said Mishra.
Several citizens' groups have written letters to Minister of State for HRD Ram Shankar Katheria, who represents Agra constituency, to raise this issue with the prime minister. The Samajwadi Party leaders in Agra have also voiced their protest against having the national university in Noida.