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Coming soon: Romantic Taj view by night

Night viewing of the Taj Mahal from Mehtab Bagh across the Yamuna will be started within three months, announced Union tourism and culture minister Mahesh Sharma who inspected the Mughal garden recently.

The tourism minister said, "We are not able to achieve the potential of Agra despite the Taj Mahal being the most visited monument in the country. While other industrial sectors are on wane here, tourism has a lot of opportunity. In such a scenario, efforts should be made to flourish nightlife so that tourists do not leave the city after viewing the Taj only. Mehtab Bagh is one such place which could emerge as a hub of nightlife. We will make sure that it becomes functional within three months."

Sharma added that he had a discussion with Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on developing tourist infrastructure, besides providing safety and security for starting night viewing of the 17th century monument.



Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport adjudged world's best airport

The capital's Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) has been adjudged the world's best airport for the year 2014, under the category of handling 25 to 40 million passengers per annum. Airports Council International (ACI) presented the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) award to IGIA at a ceremony of the ACI Asia-Pacific/World Annual General Assembly on April 28 in Jordan.

"We are honoured to represent an Indian airport at a highly acclaimed international forum as ACI. Our IGI Airport partners and employees have consistently delivered a memorable and distinct experience to our customers, enabling us to achieve the coveted world number one position," said I Prabhakara Rao, CEO of Delhi International Airport Pvt. Limited, which manages IGIA.

The Delhi airport scored 4.90 on a scale of 5 points measured by 300 members of the ACI ASQ benchmarking programme. IGIA bettered its ranking from second position for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013 to emerge on top in 2014. Their score was 3.02 in 2007.


e-Tourist Visa scheme extended to 31 more countries including France and Canada

India will provide e-Tourist Visa to 31 more countries, including France and Canada, enabling citizens of these countries easy entry to the country. The e-Tourist Visa facility is being extended to 31 more countries from May 1, a Home Ministry statement said.

The new countries included Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Canada, Cayman Island, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominic an Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, France, Georgia, Grenada, Haiti, HolySee (Vatican), Honduras, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Paraguay, St Kitts & Nevis and Seychelles.

India had launched e-Tourist Visa on 27 November, 2014 for 45 countries from nine designated Indian airports. With latest addition, the total number of countries under the scheme will go upto 76.

"The scheme will be extended to more countries in a phased manner. The Government is committed to extend the scheme to 150 countries by the end of this financial year," the statement said.


Earthquake hits Andaman and Nicobar Islands, no reports of damage

An earthquake of magnitude 5.4 on 1st May 2015, struck Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The epicentre of the earthquake is reported to be 135km south-west of Port Blair.

"Earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale has hit Andaman region at 2.29pm," an IMD official said. The depth of the earthquake was measured as 10km, the IMD said in a statement. There were no immediate reports of damages or casualties.

Earlier in the day, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit off Papua New Guinea, 110 kilometres south-southwest of the town of Kokopo, the US Geological Survey said, just a day after a 6.7 magnitude tremor in the region.

The Andaman earthquake comes within a week of the high intensity quake that hit Nepal and adjoining areas including parts of India on 25 April 2015.