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Transforming Varanasi – PM Modi shows the way

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends the Dev Deepawali Mahotsav, in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh on November 30, 2020 (All images courtesy: PIB)

Recognising the importance of Varanasi to the revival of a civilizational India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has personally steered the rebirth of the heritage city. 

Here are a few of the key projects that have been undertaken on his watch to restore the lost glory of the ancient city:

Kashi Vishwanath Corridor: KV corridor will transform the area around the holy Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Before the KV Corridor, the KV temple lacked direct visibility from the Ganges. The 20-25 feet wide corridor will connect Lalita Ghat on Ganges to the Mandir Chowk in the temple premises. Like ancient times, a devout Shiva bhakt can take a dip in the holy river every morning and pay his tribute to Lord Shiva in the temple, which will now have a direct visibility from the Ghat. Before the KV corridor, one had to go through multiple lanes to visit the temple from the ghat.  Like ancient Temples, the KV temple will have an area of its own with a giant courtyard. Earlier, one had to go through narrow lanes to enter the premises of the temple. There was no space inside the premises even if the footfall was low.


Rudraksh Convention Centre: Designed like a Shivalinga with a seating of 1200 people, with 108 Rudrakshas on its façade, the building form and philosophy behind this Convention Centre is inspired by Kashi’s tradition of people-friendly spaces. With modern facilities like divisible meeting rooms, art gallery and multi-purpose pre-function areas, the place provides opportunities for artists to showcase themselves and interact with the people as well.

Connectivity: Godowlia Multi level parking. Panchkosi Parirkama Road (for devout pilgrims). Ro-Ro Vessels for tourism development on River Ganga and three-lane flyover bridge on the Varanasi-Ghazipur Highway. Rs 111.26 crore for constructing 47 rural link roads of 153 km. Lahartara-Chaukaghat flyover replete with a food court and open café. Road connecting Babatpur to the city (Airport Road) has also become a new identity of Varanasi.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President of France, Emmanuel Macron take a boat ride on the Ganga River, in Varanasi, on March 12, 2018

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. The Ring Road will provide easier and more convenient access to Sarnath, an important site for Buddhist pilgrimage. PM Modi had inaugurated two important roads, having a total length of 34 kilometres and built at a cost of ₹1,571.95 crore. The 16.55-km-long Varanasi Ring Road Phase-I has been built at a cost of ₹759.36 crore, while the work of four-laning and construction of 17.25 km Babatpur-Varanasi-road on NH-56 cost ₹812.59 crore. The much needed 6-lane widening project of the Varanasi – Prayagraj section of NH-19 has been started, and this widening will significantly reduce congestion and traffic for vehicles plying towards Varanasi.

Sewage and Sanitation: Rural water supply scheme and upgradation of ancient sewerage system. Overhaul and upgrade sewage system in Kashi, with the installation of online effluent monitoring systems and SCADA automation at ghats and sewage pumping stations to ensure that actionable information is available at all times. New sewer lines have also been laid down in the Mohan Katara Koniya Ghat area and between Mukimganj and Machodari areas. A 140 million litre per day (MLD) sewage treatment plant (STP) at Dinapur will make the city get rid of the large waste generated and would further curb river pollution.


Overhaul of the city: Integrated Command and Control (ICC) Centre for traffic and police management system, and medical emergencies has been operationalised. This ICC centre also proved to be of great help during the pandemic as it served as a node of coordination between various administrative departments and arranging logistics simultaneously. Additionally, 3,000 CCTV cameras have also been installed at critical points across 720 locations to ensure smart policing and make Kashi much safer place for pilgrims and residents alike. LED screens have also been placed at six locations across the city. These screens display important information on the city for tourists and locals alike, including its history, architecture and art, and also provide information of significant benefit for devotees. The broadcast of the famous Ganga Aarti and the aarti of the Kashi Vishwanath temple will be done through the screens throughout the entire city through big screens, thus helping people witness the divine moments even if not physically present. Varanasi has become wireless now, with underground wiring established in the city, which was an ambitious project and unprecedented in India, as it is an old city.

Heritage: There is a sound and light show at Dhamekh Stupa, Sarnath. Varanasi have been provided with ‘smart signages’ with Quick Response (QR) code. These signages give information to visitors and tourists alike about cultural importance of heritage sites and the 84 iconic ghats of the city which are known for their antiquity and architectural beauty. Sculpture signages have also been installed at the Assi ghat and Khidkiya ghat, providing information about various events like Ganga Arti at Dashashwamedh ghat, annual Naag Nathaiyya event at Tulsi ghat. The smart signage at Manikarnika Ghat and Harishchandra Ghat, where last rites of people are performed, is meant for people to know about the traditional rituals of these ghats. Improvement of the Dashashwamedh-Godaulia quarter and old Kashi-Raj mandir road among others, the development and beautification of Nadesar pond, restoration works on the Man Singh Observatory, the development of the Piplani katra kabir chaura to Assi ghat Heritage walk or the restoration and rejuvenation of kunds like Lat Bhairav, Durga Kund and Lakshmi Kund, these initiatives are testament to the efforts being put in through various quarters to restore the pride of Kashi with the help of modern technology.


Health Infrastructure: Kashi is emerging as one of the biggest medical hubs of Purvanchal. PM had inaugurated the BHU Trauma centre for giving emergency services to the patients in the city. Now in the emergency ward, number of beds have been increased from 4 to 20 in the trauma centre. Two cancer hospitals for the city. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya Cancer Hospital and Homi Bhabha Cancer Hospital, Lahartara. These Hospitals provide comprehensive treatment to the patients from UP, and nearby states of MP, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar. PM Modi had also inaugurated maternal and child health (MCH) unit at IMS BHU, which is a 100-bed facility. Regional eye institute was inaugurated in BHU, enabling citizens of Varanasi to get modern treatment for eye related diseases. Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS), Banaras Hindu University (BHU) was upgraded to the level of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in 2018. A 430-bed super speciality government hospital was also inaugurated in 2020, which was helpful amidst the covid wave.

Trade Facilitation Centre: PM Modi had laid the foundation stone of Deen Dayal Hastkala Sankul – a trade facilitation centre for weavers, craftsmen and artisans of Varanasi in 2014 and in 2017, he dedicated the centre to the nation. The trade facilitation centre provides a marketing platform to weavers and artisans Julaha community.


Railway Station and Trains: The Manduadih railway station in Varanasi has been revamped into a world-class station. Equipped with the latest amenities, the Manduadih railway station is nothing short of an airport. The railway station is now equipped with facilities like air-condition waiting lounge, stainless steel lounges, LED lights. The Indian Railways has also added fountains to beautify the premises.  The station also has cafeteria, food court, booking and reservation office, waiting rooms and more. Kashi Mahakal Express will connect three pilgrimage cities-Varanasi, Ujjain and Omkareshwar.

Clean Drinking Water for the City: Cis Varuna water supply scheme renovation, Trans Varuna Water Supply Scheme’s SCADA automation works launched.  Bhelupura water treatment plant gets 2MW solar power plant.

Other Projects: PM Modi had inaugurated projects worth around Rs 744 crore and laid foundation stones of several projects and public works worth about Rs 839 crore in July, 2021. These include the Centre for Skill and Technical Support of Central Institute of Petrochemical Engineering and Technology (CIPET), 143 rural projects under the Jal Jeevan Mission and mango and vegetable integrated pack house in Karkhiyanv. Rs,92 crore spent to build new residential quarters in BHU for professors. LED screen at 6 places and sound systems and tourist development works in Rameshwar. Integrated pack house for Karkhiyaon to facilitate export of popular farm products.

Also Read: Advanced security system for Kashi Vishwanath Dham project