on behalf of Chetana Shah, based on her experiences
In my last trip to Varanasi, after a gap of 3 years, I was able to see the city in a different light altogether. I had not seen the city so beautiful, so organised and so clean. Ganga looked pure and beautiful, a river which is nothing but a mother to us. The trip itself was an awesome experience, and I would like to share it with you all.
The very first thing I noticed was that the city had much lesser power cuts and markets getting more than 20hrs a day on a bad day. The 24*7 days were also there. I was also amazed to see the clear sky due to under grounding of cables. The mesh of wires was removed and it was a huge relief to just see remnants of it.
Roads seemed wide, as a lot of illegal construction was demolished. The last few rains had negligible impact on the roads unlike earlier times. There is still a lot of work to be done, but yes there is hope.
Electric Rickshaws are running and for women there are pink Rickshaws. The drains are covered and the smell that used to bother people is now no longer present..
The public places like Railway Stations and Ghats have improved. Noticable amongst those are Varanasi, Cantt and Manduadih Stations. The Assi ghat and Dashashwamedh look much cleaner and are regularly maintained.
I was most impressed by Modi’s most ambitious project, the ‘Kashi Vishwanath Mandir Vistarikaran-Saundarayakaran Yojana’ which has given the Kashi Vishwanath corridor. The corridor greatly eases the pilgrimage. The 400-metre long corridor, costing around Rs 450 crore, is to provide devotees “clear access” to the Kashi Vishwanath temple after taking a ritual dip in the Ganga. Prior to creation of the corridor, people had to walk through narrow and congested lanes. This was a major problem as according to a rough estimate, nearly 3,000 people visit the shrine daily and numbers reach 1 lakh and more on special occasions. Nearly 300 houses have been acquired and these properties demolished to pave the way for construction of the 50-feet-wide corridor. The residents have been paid double the circle rate and government has identified about eight acres of government land near Ramnagar in Varanasi to build houses and rehabilitate the affected. On top of this the shopkeepers would be allotted new shops near the temple after the completion of the project. Kashi Vishwanath is regarded as most important places of worship amongst Hindus,
I would also like to mention the 2 roads that have really made a difference to vehicular traffic. These are 16.55-km-long Varanasi Ring Road and the 17.25 km Babatput-Varanasi road. The 4 lane Babatpur Airport highway connects the city with the airport and go on to link Jaunpur, Sultanpur and Lucknow. With a flyover at Harhua and a rail overbridge at Tarna, it will reduce the travel time from Varanasi to the airport, providing a big relief
to the people of the holy city and tourists. While the Ring Road, with two rail overbridges and a flyover, will allow traffic on NH 56 (Lucknow-Varanasi), NH 233 (Azamgarh- Varanasi), NH 29 (Gorakhpur-Varanasi) and Ayodhya-Varanasi highways to bypass Varanasi, thereby reducing traffic congestion in the city along with reduction in travel time, fuel usage and pollution in the area. The Ring Road will also provide easier and more convenient access to Sarnath, an important site for Buddhist pilgrimage. These projects will also provide increased employment opportunities, development of small and medium industries and give a boost
to economic development in the area.
One of the other major achievements, worth mentioning is transformation of Jayapur. This village which did not even have a post office in 2014 is now a centre of attraction globally. The village has two 25-kw solar power plants capable of lighting up 2 LED bulbs and a mobile charging point at each house in the village, a toilet attached with every house and 12 public bio-toilets. Besides 135 solar street lamps, the newly-built girls’ primary school and the Anganwadis also have solar power. Solar water pumps provide drinking water. The Stone pathways are a sight to see
For a great relief to public, Modi had laid the foundation of the Cancer Research Institute and the Trauma Centre is running now.