Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently chaired a review meeting on the development projects undertaken in Varanasi. During the meeting, he directed that certain projects be expedited without compromising on quality, and that the expansion and modernisation of Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport be prioritised.
The presentation made to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the review meeting highlighted, among other project developments, the progress made at the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir complex, using a drone video of the layout. The PM directed the Kashi Vishwanath Trust to prepare a route map with appropriate tourist guides to help pilgrims who visit the complex. He also said that all old temples that were unearthed during the development of the Kashi Vishwanath Parisar should be protected and preserved, and the help of experts should be taken to maintain their historical and architectural legacy.
During the meeting, Prime Minister Modi was also apprised of all projects being undertaken in Varanasi. According to a statement, it was informed that “more than 100 major projects within the financial outflow of around `8,000 crore are currently being undertaken in Varanasi and pertain to the creation of social and physical infrastructure like hospital buildings, national waterways, roads, as well as international convention centre ‘Rudraksh’ built with Indo-Japan collaboration.”
The PM asked the officials to accelerate the completion of all the development work and also maintain highest standards of quality. In addition, he said that in order to boost the footfall of tourists in the city, works of cruise tourism, light & sound shows, rejuvenation of Khidkiya and Dashaswamedh Ghats, and the display of Ganga Aarti through audio-video screens should be fast-tracked. He insisted that all efforts be taken to promote Kashi as one of the key repositories of world heritage. He also directed officials to complete the expansion and modernisation works of Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport on priority.
Need to go beyond religious tourism
Pradeep Rai, Managing Director, Skyline India Travels, speaking about the development at Kashi Vishwanath Mandir complex, says that it is a mega project and the construction there has been going on in full swing. “Recently, a new head for the project has been appointed to expedite the development,” he says. In fact, he adds that the Chief Minister has been monitoring the development of the Kashi Vishwanath Mandir complex since the PM is closely involved. “The Chief Minister regularly visits the project and takes stock of the situation,” Rai says.
He adds that apart from this, nothing big is happening in the holy city. “There are discussions, but nothing much is happening as the entire country was in lockdown,” Rai says.He also feels that there is a need to create and promote new products. “We only get pilgrims and spiritual tourists in Varanasi. The local tourism organisations have taken initiatives to bring new things and promote them, but nothing concrete has happened. The development is only limited to ghats.”