Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together.
— Mark Twain
Varanasi is more than 3000 years old and is the oldest city of the world. Varanasi, the holy city of India is also recognised as the spiritual capital of India. Varanasi is also known by the names of Kashi and Benaras. Kashi, the city of Moksha for Hindus since centuries, is known for its fine-quality silks, ‘paan’ and Benares Hindu University. In Hinduism it is believed that those who die and are cremated here get an instant gateway to liberation from the cycle of births and re-births. It is famous as the city of temples. People from all over the world come to this city to witness its evolution over the period of time. This city is city of Temples and ‘Galis’ (Narrow streets).
Towards the end of 20th century and the beginning of 21st century this city like all other big cities started expanding because of migration of rural population to urban area for better education, infrastructure and job opportunity. National Democratic Alliance (NDA) under the leadership of Atal Behari Vajeyee was in power at that time and the Govt planned and initiated many infrastructure projects to cater the growing demand of the city but unfortunately NDA lost the general elections in 2004 and those important projects remained only on papers for a decade.
The hopes of city and its populace were reignited when Narendra Modi was nominated as the BJP candidate from Varanasi LS seat in 2014 general elections. The city voted him with more than 60 percent of total votes polled and BJP received a clear majority in the lower house (Lok Sabha) of the Parliament. Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister. After the taking oath of his office, PM Modi reviewed the stalled infrastructure projects of the city and the decade old demand of the Ring Road project, four lane connectivity to other cities of the state and many other projects to bring this city at par with cities of equal importance were launched.
Thanks to its Member of Parliament (Loksabha) Mr. Narendra Modi who also happens to be the Prime Minister of India, the constituency has succeeded in wooing Central Government projects of varied size and scale and all these projects are being executed at a fast pace. Ministry of Textiles, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Waterways, Ministry of Human Resources Development, Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Urban Development are among the central ministries that are giving special attention to Varanasi and their projects are being executed on fast track basis.
Important Projects which have been launched in Varanasi by PM Narendra Modi –
– An Integrated Power Development Scheme for which the city was allocated more than Rs. 500 crores. This project aims at underground cabling of power lines, cutting transmission and distribution losses and many other things. – An ambitious gas pipeline project ‘Urja Ganga’, for five eastern states viz. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal, is to be executed by public sector giant GAIL. Urja Ganga is a 2540 km-long gas pipeline which will fulfil energy requirement of 40 districts and 2600 villages of these five eastern states covering millions of consumers. For Varanasi this project will bring piped cooking fuel to a population of 36.5 lakhs dwelling in 1,535 sq. km. of the district. As many as 50,000 families will get PNG connectivity while five lakh cylinders will be given to rural population every year within five years. Besides, 20,000 vehicles will be converted to CNG fuelled vehicles in Varanasi, where 20 CNG stations will come up in near future.
This project likely to be completed by 2020, would not only fulfil energy requirement for households, industries, hotels, cold storages, dairies and vehicles but also help in bringing natural gas based crematoriums at cremation grounds including Manikarnika and Harishchandra ghats. ‘Urja Ganga’ will also help in revival of a number of moribund fertilizer manufacturing units.
* Other projects launched were expansion of diesel locomotive works, dedication of 765/400 KV GIS Varanasi Power sub-station and inauguration of Varanasi Postal Region.
* Prime Minister Modi also laid foundation stone for second line and electrification of 120-km-long Varanasi-Madhosingh-Allahabad railway line involving an expenditure of Rs. 750.66 crores and unveiled setting up of perishable cargo centre at Rajatalab Railway Station.
*Another central project — Upgrading Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development (USTAD) has been brought by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his constituency.
The project, which will cater to weavers and other artisans, will be executed by the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs.
Varanasi has a large population of Muslims and most among them are engaged in weaving and other crafts. USTAD will provide skill development and better marketing strategies to weavers and artisans of traditional crafts like wooden lacquer ware and toys and Banaras Gulabi Meenakari.
The Ministry of Minorities has a list of registered master trainers for weaving and other crafts. These master trainers will be trained by NGOs under USTAD about the latest technologies and marketing strategies so that they in turn can train young artisans.
Thus after Narendra Modi’s election from Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency, the landscape of Varanasi is changing fast and for the first time this ancient city of historical, tourism and cultural importance is getting its long overdue attention. Once all these ongoing projects are completed the city will see a complete makeover in its appearance and visibility.
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