Varanasi set to get grand makeover, film city

The Union urban development ministry has drawn up a blueprint for a slew of projects — comprising town planning, civic and transportation — to reshape the temple town significantly.

india Updated: Sep 15, 2014 02:20 IST
Varanasi,smart city,Union government

For Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency of Varanasi it seems 'acche din' have come with the NDA government planning a giant goodie bag for the temple city.

What the Centre does here could potentially be used to showcase the Modi government's development initiatives in future polls.

Besides a complete makeover, the Centre's big plans for the oldest living city in the world includes a film city, developing a 'greater Varanasi', a mass transport system like the one in New Delhi, a trade facilitation centre, and a arts and craft museum.

In the 2014 general polls, Modi had contested from Varanasi and Gujarat's Vadodara. He later retained the UP seat and promised to develop the city including cleaning up the Ganga. To that end, a lion's share of the Centre's multi-crore Namami Gange plan will be spent on Varanasi and facelift of 84 river-front ghats is also on the agenda.

Kashi is also high on the agenda of the NDA government's smart city project. A mass rapid transport system including a Bus Rapid Transport System- like the one in New Delhi - is being planned.

There is also an exhaustive plan for 'Greater Varanasi' which will see the development of neighbouring towns like Sarnath, Ramnagar, Babatpur, Shivpur, Cholapur and Ganapur as satellite cities.

To boost tourism, plans are underway to promote 'walking tourism' and get heritage tags for several havelis, kothis and akharas. A cooperation deal between Kyoto and Varanasi, signed by Modi when he was in Japan, will strive to preserve the art and culture of the ancient Indian city.

While the entire civic structure of Varanasi is headed for an overhaul including modern waste management system, six projects worth `1,017.18 crore will be completed soon.

Uttar Pradesh's first jetty will come up on the Kosi river near Ram Nagar in Varanasi. Once it begins operation, ships with 600 to 1,000 tonnes of cargo can ferry between West Bengal and Varanasi giving a big boost to economic and commercial activities.

Sources said necessary clearances for a trade facilitation centre and a crafts museum, announced by finance minister Arun Jaitley in the budget, will be given by the Centre soon. Rs 50 crore was set aside for this plan.

A Jal Marg Vikas project to connect Varanasi through rive-routes and a complete makeover of the Cantonment railway station is also on the cards.

The proposal for a film city was proposed by BJP MP and Bhojpuri superstar Manoj Tewari. "Many films are shot in Varanasi. An organised film city can boost the local economy," said an official.

Plans for tourism

The government will identify, preserve and project more historical buildings as tourist attractions. It has planned to adopt measures such as better access by walkways and improved lighting that can make the city’s heritage structures more attractive.

Plans for citizens

A complete revamp of the civic infrastructure with better sewage network, waste management and transportation. A plan to bring in intelligent street lighting is also on the blueprint as are initiatives to declog the city’s skyline that’s presently criss-crossed by jumble of wires

Plans for the city

Kick-starting the several central schemes that would have bettered the civic infrastructure. Action would include releasing of remaining funds and spurring execution. The government is also looking at developing the suburbs as Greater Varanasi to help spread out the population

Plans for Ganga

The majestic ghats of Kashi and the riverfront are expected to get a facelift and the government is planning to get cracking on the ambitious ‘jal marg’ project that would see transit on the 1,620 km- Allahabad-Varanasi-Haldia water stretch.

First Published: Sep 14, 2014 19:51 IST