"Some steps have been taken."
Agra, May 8 - With the mercury crossing the 44 degrees Celsius mark, the Agra district administration has ordered all schools till Class 8 to close by 11 a.m.

The order, passed by District Magistrate Zuher Bin Sagir, was passed in response to appeals from parents.

Principals of schools would be held responsible if anything went wrong due to the heat, an official said as the temperature crossed 44 degrees Celsius Tuesday.

With the searing heat, Agra roads are virtually deserted by noon itself.

With power and water crises defying resolution, the plight of the common man without means is a cause for concern. In winter, they have the night shelters, what about summer? The shady trees along the roads have disappeared. The shelters at the bus stands have been encroached upon. What should a pedestrian do? asked social activist Devashish Bhattacharya.

Tourists who haven't done their research properly are suffering.

A group from the northeast had no idea about how oppressive Agra weather can be and had a tough time at the Taj. They just wanted to take a look and rush back to their hotel rooms. Normally, a tourist wants to spend several hours at the Taj Mahal. The sales of handicrafts has fallen, hotel owners are unhappy with tourist arrivals, said tourist guide Amit Sisodia.

Demand for bottled water and cold drinks has escalated at the monuments.

The ASI could consider putting up temporary tented shelters inside the monuments, suggested tourist guide Ved Gautam.

Some steps have been taken.

Said Munnazar Ali, caretaker of the Taj Mahal: We have provided green carpets for people to walk on. The pressure of tourists is high in the morning and after 3 p.m.. But walking down from the Shilpgram parking complex or from the Western Gate parking slot is really tough, though battery operated buses are available.

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