Foreign tourists want Prime Minister Narendra Modi to step in and resolve Varanasi’s cleanliness and congestion woes, saying poor sanitation and bad traffic in extremely narrow lanes mar the magnificent city’s ancient appeal.
The city represented by the Prime Minister in the Lok Sabha is popular with foreign tourists, attracting a footfall of over two lakh last year, but its haphazard traffic and general filth are an assault on the senses.
Walking near the Dashashwamedh Ghat, Sergio Nota, part of a Portuguese group, finds the city interesting and lively. But what pains him and his group are the filthy passages and random cycling and motorbiking in the lanes.
“Lanes are meant for pedestrians, not for bikers,” another Portuguese tourist said.
Filth scattered on roads saddened a Japanese tourist, who did not wish to give his name. “There should be an awareness drive about cleanliness to make the lanes filth-free,” he said.
Ferena Pietrangeli and Nicola Foffano, both from Italy, described the traffic as messy. The duo did not know Prime Minister Modi but jumped with joy at the mention of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. “She is from Italy. She is president of some big Indian political party.”
Regional tourism officer Ravindra Kumar said the department was taking steps to improve things. Mayor Ramgopal Mohale said, “Work for proper roads will start soon under the Heritage City Documentation and Augmentation Yojana.” Under the scheme, 14 city roads have been selected.
A total of 2,85,252 and 2,87,761 foreign tourists visited Varanasi in 2013 and 2014.