Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency of Varanasi is getting an ambitious Rs 18,349-crore makeover as the government pours in money to boost the dilapidated infrastructure of the holy city that has fallen into disrepair.
Since the BJP came to power in May, infrastructure projects spanning different ministries such as highways, shipping, urban development and water resources have been approved and are at various stages of implementation.
“It’s not just a facelift but an overall development of one of the oldest living cities. These projects, once complete, would not only improve living conditions but also give a big boost to the city’s economy,” said an official.
The push for modernising the city is coming right from the top, with the prime minister’s office closely monitoring the progress of projects. “Besides meetings, we have to send regular updates to the PMO,” said an official.
Development of the national highway network around the holy city is a key focus area with seven projects worth Rs 13,775 crore approved since last September.
To give a spurt to river transport, the Centre has also approved Rs 4,200 crore as part of the Jal Marg Yojana. This will improve navigational infrastructure to help facilitate the movement of bigger vessels on the 1,600-km stretch of the Ganga between Uttar Pradesh’s Allahabad and Haldia in West Bengal.
“In the first phase, we have started work on a 1,400-km stretch between Varanasi and Haldia. Currently, the stretch is underutilised because of inadequate infrastructure,” said an official.
The urban development ministry has also allocated Rs 89 crore to Varanasi for heritage conservation and improving public amenities, as one of the 12 cities under the Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana.
The city will also get a big share of the Centre’s Rs 20,000 crore earmarked for the National Mission for Cleaning Ganga. “On Tuesday, projects worth `279 crore for riverfront development and setting up of sewage treatment plant under NMCG would be approved. Already `5.5 crore has been sanctioned for sprucing up seven ghats along the Ganga,” said an official.