By Brij Khandelwal
Agra, April 2 : The total neglect and failure to maintain the 207 km-long cycle track from Etawah to Agra, the Rs 133 crore dream project of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, has reduced it to a state of shambles.
No longer does the ruined cycle track attract fitness freaks. The concrete layered cycle track through wilderness and ravines of the Yamuna, never found patrons, in fact.
Long-distance runner and cycling maniac Pramod Katara said that “villagers in many stretches used the track for drying cow dung cakes, or for washing clothes”.
In the Bah area, close to the dreaded Chambal ravines, the track was not even fully complete, but the Akhilesh government was in a hurry to inaugurate the project on November 26, 2016.
The cycle track with colourful pillars meandering along shady trees, had to be bulldozed in Agra, to make way for the six-lane Fatehabad road, connecting the Kheria airport with the Taj Mahal.
“Since this stretch of road is frequently used by VIPs and foreign dignitaries, a plan to widen it had been there in the pipeline for a long time,” a contractor at the site along the city’s Mall Road said.
But now the cycle track is used by buffaloes.
In any case the project was a non-starter from the very beginning. These days how many people use cycles? Not many. Even students opt for scooters and mobikes.
“For want of security foreign tourists showed no interest,” said environmentalist Shravan Kumar Singh.
It is surprising that no one has raised this issue, how precious resources have been squandered away on a questionable project, flaunted as a green project, that was neither required nor feasible, commented environmentalist Devashish Bhattacharya.
The cycle track, from Etawah’s lion safari to the Taj city, wades through the picturesque and adventurous terrain of the dreaded Chambal ravines, connecting more than 90 villages.
It also meanders through the desolate wilderness between Yamuna and Chambal, along Bateshwar, the holy town with 101 Shiva temples in a row along the bend of the river.