Taj Mahal reopens even as India's COVID tally soars

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Sep 21, 2020, 06.27 AM(IST)

The Taj Mahal Photograph:( PTI )

Story highlights

The world-famous white marble mausoleum in the city of Agra south of New Delhi is India's most popular tourist site. It usually draws seven million visitors a year, but has been closed since March.

The Taj Mahal reopens to visitors on Monday even as India looks set to overtake the US as the global leader in coronavirus infections.

The world-famous white marble mausoleum in the city of Agra south of New Delhi is India's most popular tourist site. It usually draws seven million visitors a year, but has been closed since March.

India, home to 1.3 billion people and some of the world's most crowded cities, has recorded more than 5.4 million Covid cases. Around 100,000 new infections and over 1,000 deaths are reported almost daily for the last few days.

But in face of a falling GDP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is more in favour of kickstarting economic activities.

The Modi government, in recent months, has eased more and more restrictions including on many train routes, domestic flights, markets, and restaurants.

Officials say that when the Taj Mahal reopens, strict social distancing rules will be imposed and daily visitor numbers will be capped at 5,000 -- a quarter the normal rate. Tickets can only be bought online.

Meanwhile, many experts say that even though India is testing more than a million people per day, this is still not enough and the true number of cases may be much higher than officially reported.

The same goes for deaths, which currently stand at more than 86,000, with many fatalities not properly recorded even in normal times in one of the world's worst-funded healthcare systems.

There is however some resistance to Modi's unlocking of the world's second-most populated country, which saw its economy contract by almost a quarter between April and June.

Schools were meant to resume Monday on a voluntary basis for students aged 14 to 17, but many Indian states such as Maharashtra and Gujarat have said it is still too soon.

Elsewhere schools are refusing to open or parents are wary of sending their children in.
 

Read in App